The Guardian Review

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Having lost his helicopter crew in a freak accident, veteran rescue swimmer Ben Randall (Costner) is sidelined to teach new recruits to the Coast Guard’s toughest job — among them cocky but troubled swim champ Jake Fischer (Kutcher).


Anyone who’s read a perfect Storm will recall the staggering passage detailing the physical resilience necessary to be a Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer, those Herculean types who leap into broiling oceans to save poor souls from sinking. Technically speaking, you need to be hard as a girder. If this action-bonding movie, pitching Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher along the worn trail from mutual friction to doggone respect, doesn’t convince you of one thing, it’s how tough these maniacs are. Our two would be whimpering in seconds.

What we are actually dealing with is a po-faced remake of Bull Durham, swapping fizzy baseball philosophy for clunky man-of-the-sea aphorisms: “Hope don’t float!” Drowning people apart, it’s pure sports movie, with Costner’s gruff coach knocking Kutcher’s wannabe into shape before realising, deep beneath their thick skins, they have soggy neuroses in common. And, as Team America espoused, what they need is a montage. Actually, a montage of montages.

Andrew Davis, once so rigorous with The Fugitive, directs with a limp hand, eliciting neither the primal forces of a storm-swept ocean — the actors are evidently bobbing about in a tank — nor the true nature of sacrifice. While much is made of the terrible arbitrariness of choosing who to save, the rash duo spend the last 15 minutes rescuing each other.

The same watchable but weary tripe about what it takes to become an American hero, as unconvincingly applied to rescue swimmers.