Directed By: Peter Weir
Starring: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd
Tag line: "The Courage To Do The Impossible Lies In The Hearts Of Men"
Trivia: Director Weir shot footage of an actual typhoon to be used in this movie
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a throwback to a time when epic films were intelligent, characters were interesting, and a filmmaker’s imagination could take you places you never anticipated.
The year is 1805, and the war between Napoleon’s France and the British Empire rages on. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), the commander of the HMS Surprise, has been ordered to pursue the French ship Acheron, which has been disrupting the British whaling industry. Knowing full well that the Acheron is faster, stronger and more agile that his ship, Aubrey nonetheless accepts the assignment and sets sail for the enemy ship’s last known position. But it's the Acheron that strikes first, catching the Surprise, as well as its Captain, completely off-guard. With his vessel heavily damaged, and against the advice of ship’s doctor (and Aubrey’s best friend) Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), Aubrey orders his crew to give chase to the Acheron, following it all the way to the South Seas. Hoping to live up to his nickname of “Lucky Jack”, Aubrey is determined to complete his mission and bring honor to his gallant crew, regardless of the costs.
Everything about Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, from the performances to its detailed recreation of the time period, is exceptional. Russell Crowe is inspired in his portrayal of “Lucky Jack” Aubrey, exuding strength, courage, and just the right hint of uncontrollable ego to make this character believable. As Dr. Maturin, Paul Bettany is also superb. His Doctor is a cynical character, one who fails to see the point in honor if it means risking life and limb in a hopeless cause. Keeping his eye on Jack Aubrey every step of the way, Dr. Maturin is the perfect foil, and perfect friend, for the brave and illustrious Captain.
Of course, these two fine performances would have been for naught if the scenes at sea weren’t realistically portrayed, Director Peter Wier and his crew spent a great deal of time and energy recreating this period of British history, and their efforts paid off (when commenting on the cannons that were designed for both the Surprise and Acheron, 18th century weaponry expert Martin Bribbings stated that, “no one in film has ever made weapons to this degree of accuracy.”)
Much like the brave men of the Surprise, who band together in an effort to carry out their mission, every aspect of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World comes together perfectly, resulting in a movie that is as technically stunning as it is immensely entertaining.