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Jack Aubrey is Captain of the British war ship “Surprise”. He is a skilled captain, respected by his crew, and well known for being lucky in battle. His mission is to go to the coast of Brazil and destroy or capture a privateer ship named “Acheron”. The Acheron has been marauding the South American coast and raiding British merchant ships for France.
When Aubrey finally engages the Acheron, he finds that he has a much more difficult task ahead of him than he expected. They are outmanned, outgunned, and outclassed. As casualties mount, “Lucky Jack” doggedly pursues the French ship despite reservations by the crew and advice from his close friend and ship surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin. But just how far will Aubrey be willing to go in order to catch his prize?
“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” is rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, related images, and brief language.
Look and sound aside, it was also a good story. I’ve always been into tales of adventure on the high seas so this movie really captured my attention. This is one of the best sailing movies that I’ve seen. It is a tale of a game of cat and mouse played out on the open ocean. What’s interesting is that we never see the crew of the Acheron until the last possible moment of the film. This makes them all the more mysterious when you also take into account their tricky maneuvers and advanced sailing techniques.
This is also a story of leadership. At the core of it is Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey. Crowe continues to show a knack for picking good roles in this movie. His portrayal of Aubrey is interesting because the character exhibits all the qualities of a good leader. He’s skilled, brave, honorable, respected, and humble. He has all the traits of someone you’d want to follow into battle. It’s so rare to see a character that actually has his act together in a movie. So often the hero is flawed or brooding or has some sort of failing characteristic. While that makes him interesting and dramatic, it’s not always realistic. It’s probably more of a challenge to portray an honorable man in a movie, yet Crowe pulls it off.
Most of the supporting cast is unremarkable, though. There are a few exceptions. Crowe’s “A Beautiful Mind” co-star Paul Bettany plays Dr. Stephen Maturin. I have to admit that I didn’t recognize him at all. I only realized afterwards that it was him. He is good as the voice of reason advising Aubrey. Also good is Max Pirkis as Midshipman Blakeney. He is a young ward of Aubrey and one of the officers on the ship. He pretty much goes through hell in the movie. Pirkis shows maturity beyond his years and makes you believe that he could lead sailors into battle despite his young age. He seems like what you’d expect Aubrey to be like as a boy. Former hobbit Billy Boyd has a minor role in this movie. Fans of his will probably be disappointed, though, because he is given very little to do.
You could probably say, though, that the real attractions in the film are the cool sea battles. The Acheron and Surprise engage each other on several occasions and the results are powerful and devastating. They are some of the cooler battles I’ve seen on screen in a while. When it becomes obvious that the Surprise is outmatched, Aubrey utilizes a few clever tricks to win the day. I won’t spoil them here for you.
As much as I enjoyed Master and Commander, I have to say that it does run a bit long. It’s almost 2 ½ hours in running time and there are some long, slow stretches here and there in the story. They can be a bit tedious to get through. However, if you’re in the mood for a good action movie this is one well worth checking out.
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