Perfect Storm, The (2000): Petersen’s Thriller-Disaster Movie, Starring George Clooney

Wolfgang Petersen directed The Perfect Storm, a special-effects disaster thriller based on Sebastian Junger’s 1997 non-fiction book.

Set in October 1991, the tale begins with commercial fishing boat Andrea Gail returning to port in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Since there was weak catch, Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney), a divorced father of two daughters desperate for money, convinces the crew to join him for one more fishing expedition.

The crew heads out past their usual fishing grounds on Newfoundland, leaving a developing tropical storm behind them. Initially unsuccessful, they head to the Flemish Cap, where their luck improves. But the ice machine breaks down, and the only way to sell their catch (before it spoils) is to hurry back to shore.

After debating whether to sail through the storm or to wait it out, the crew decides to take risk. However, there’s between Andrea Gail and Gloucester a confluence of two powerful weather fronts and a hurricane, which the crew underestimates.

After repeated warnings, Andrea Gail loses its antenna, forcing Captain Linda Greenlaw of sister ship Hannah Boden to call in a Mayday. A New York Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopter responds, but after failing to perform a midair refueling, the helicopter crew ditch their aircraft. All but one of the Air National Guard members are rescued by a Coast Guard vessel, the USCGC Tamaroa.

The crew struggles to sail through waves and winds, while friends and family worry for the ship to come home. The vessel encounters enormous rogue wave. They attempt to drive the boat over the wave, but it crests and is overturned. Billy goes down with his ship, the rest of the crew are trapped inside. Only fisherman Bobby Shatford manages to get out, and after surfacing, he watches as Andrea Gail rights herself before sinking into the Atlantic. Bobby silently bids adieu to his loved ones, while the rapidly rising swell carries him away.

With no survivors, Linda reads the eulogy at the memorial.  Heading out to sea again, she recalls Billy talking about the meaning and responsibility of being a ship captain.

The Perfect Storm was released by Warner on June 30, 2000, earning $328 million worldwide.


Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Produced by Paula Weinstein, Wolfgang Petersen, Gail Katz
Screenplay by William D. Wittliff and Bo Goldman (uncredited)
Based on The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
Music by James Horner
Cinematography: John Seale
Edited by Richard Francis-Bruce
Produced by Baltimore Pictures, Radiant Productions
Distributed by Warner
Release date: June 30, 2000
Running time: 130 minutes
Budget: $120 million
Box office: $328.7 million

George Clooney as Frank William “Billy” Tyne, Jr., captain of Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat. Billy is a  who is determined to undertake one last fishing trip before the end of the season to make up for poor catches.

Mark Wahlberg as Robert “Bobby” Shatford, the least experienced of the crew of Andrea Gail. Bobby is the son of Ethel Shatford, the owner of the Crow’s Nest, and boyfriend to Chris Cotter. He enjoys commercial fishing, but his relationship with Chris (coupled with her reluctance to let him sail again) creates conflict within himself and between the couple. Yet, he is compelled by the potential to earn more money at sea than he could make with a job on shore to sign on for one last trip.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Linda Greenlaw, the captain of Hannah Boden.

Linda and Billy both captain ships for the same owner and maintain a friendly rivalry. She is concerned about Billy and his crew’s going out in what she considers dangerous weather.

Linda is the last to speak to Andrea Gail.

Diane Lane as Christina “Chris” Cotter, girlfriend of Bobby Shatford. She does not want Bobby to go on the trip because of a bad feeling she has about it. She spends her time during the last fishing trip decorating an apartment she has rented as a surprise for Bobby to symbolize her commitment to him.

John C. Reilly as Dale “Murph” Murphy, crewmember is a vet fisherman who is divorced with a son.  Murph has a rocky relationship with crewmember David “Sully” Sullivan that is eventually resolved during the trip.

William Fichtner as David “Sully” Sullivan, crewmember on Andrea Gail. He signed on for the trip at the last minute when another fisherman suddenly backed out. Sully and Murph initially have an antagonistic relationship that is fueled in part by Sully’s past involvement with Murph’s ex-wife, although the details are not made clear in the film. The relationship is eventually resolved during the trip.

Michael Ironside as Bob Brown, owner of Andrea Gail and Hannah Boden. Although Brown seems to harbor a deep-seated recognition of Tyne’s skills at catching fish, he nevertheless pressures Tyne over the latter’s recent inability to bring in larger hauls, resulting in an uneasy relationship between the two.
Bob Gunton as Alexander McAnally III, owner of Mistral, a yacht caught in the storm.
Karen Allen as Melissa Brown, crewmember on Mistral.
Cherry Jones as Edie Bailey, crewmember on Mistral.
Allen Payne as Alfred Pierre, one of the crew of Andrea Gail.
John Hawkes as Michael “Bugsy” Moran, a member of Andrea Gail’s crew. Bugsy’s somewhat comic inability to connect with women appears to change on the eve of the trip, when he meets a divorced mother at the Crow’s Nest, who later comes to the dock to see him off. They hint at the prospect of a budding relationship that fatefully never materializes.
Janet Wright as Ethel Shatford, Bobby’s mother.
Christopher McDonald as Todd Gross, a Boston meteorologist working for the WNEV-TV (the present day WHDH-TV).
Dash Mihok as Sergeant Jeremy Mitchell, a pararescueman on the New York Air National Guard rescue helicopter.