Jeff Bridges and a host of teenage stars-to-be (including Ryan Phillippe, Scott Wolf and Jeremy Sisto) set sail in this fact-based tale of the doomed final voyage of a youth nautical academy. The year is 1960, and a world of Jack London-style adventure seems to await the crew of the brigantine Albatross–high school students who have signed on to spend their senior year sailing the South Seas under the watchful eye of a tough-love skipper (Bridges, excellent). Along the way, the boys become men and forge a deep respect for their salty schoolmaster–until the sudden storm of the title arrives and puts them, and everything they’ve learned, to the test. The storm is one of Scott’s most spectacular set-pieces, filmed using a full-size replica of the original ship. The movie itself ranks among his most thoughtful and (after The Duellists) Conradian, well deserving of rediscovery.
“With uncanny skill, director Scott–one of the real visual magicmakers in modern film–puts us in the center of a freak storm in the Atlantic Ocean. And though the theme of his story isn't new, Scott is able to make it fresh and lyrical, as well as give us rousingly exciting scenes of nature in eruption. This tale of 13 adolescent boys and their yearlong 1960 voyage on a ship school or ‘ocean academy,’ the square-rigged brigantine the Albatross, has the power to stir us deeply.”
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
“The story has its corny aspects, but thanks to Scott's skill as an image maker and as a storyteller—proceeding from the very blue and very abstract water seen behind the credits to the climactic, extended storm—this is superior to both Dead Poets Society (as a tale about a boys' school and its charismatic teacher) and Apollo 13 (as a true-life action adventure).”
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader