Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

How well this film communicates the difficult but often thrilling life aboard such a ship is a great accomplishment, but its greatest is getting us so engaged with so many characters in such short time. The most underdeveloped is sadly the captain himself, as his best scenes are there to build up the characters around him, but Crowe’s abundant presence makes it seem as if he’s three-dimensional anyway. This is an exuberant action film of many emotions (perhaps the most moving of 2003’s cerebral blockbusters), but thematically it’s just as interested in seeing what brings out the best in humanity.

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