Calling a movie "Twister on the high seas" is hardly a recommendation, yet it is perhaps the most apt description of this mega-budget stormathon, in which the starring role is usurped by the stunning weather effects.
The story is based on a true one - documented by Sebastian Junger in his eponymous book - about a freak meteorological condition which occurred off the north-east coast of America in 1991 and the effect it has in particular on a fishing boat called 'The Andrea Gail'.
While the exploits of the stricken vessel - along with her captain Billy Tyne (Clooney) and crew, which includes Bobby (Wahlberg) and Murph (Reilly) - are certainly the central story, director Petersen cleverly chooses not to put all his eggs in one basket, weaving in other strands about a daring coastguard rescue, as well as following Diane Lane and other unfortunate loved ones stuck at home.
But while we get to learn a little about Tyne, Bobby et al. and their bizarre, dangerous existence in a laid-back first half-an-hour, things only really kick in once the black clouds loom.
According to the FX team, every wave over five feet is fake, but you would never know it as they are staggeringly authentic, literally pulling you into the eye of the storm.
Unfortunately, everything else often grabs liberally from the cheese platter, but much of that can be forgiven as you watch the men battle against what should have, quite frankly, also had its name above the titles.