Chris Hemsworth is a big star, which is something that can’t be denied, but he’s also struggled to establish himself as a bona fide Hollywood leading man outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The big Australian can deliver a great performance in the right project, as his turn in racing drama Rush more than proved, but for the most part, his star vehicles have tended to underperform at the box office, and haven’t fared too well with critics, either.
Blackhat, Huntsman: Winter’s War, 12 Strong and Men in Black: International all gave him top billing, only to do pretty poorly from both a critical and commercial perspective. Following the aforementioned Rush, Hemsworth was surely hoping lightning would strike twice when he reunited with director Ron Howard for the historical adventure In the Heart of the Sea, but that unfortunately didn’t happen.
Based on the true story of the Essex, a whaling ship that sank and inspired Moby Dick, Chris Hemsworth certainly put himself through the physical wringer, shedding 40 pounds from his typically chiseled frame to convince as a man lost at sea alongside the remnants of his crew. It’s not a terrible movie by any means, but Howard’s direction is more functional than spectacular, even if there are a couple of decent set pieces during the various battles against the white whale intent on causing havoc.
In the Heart of the Sea ended up bombing at the box office after failing to even recoup the $100 million budget in theaters, while reviews were largely tepid, ironically leaving it to sink without a trace. However, it’s shooting up the Netflix most-watched list right now, having jumped fifteen places since yesterday and currently nestled comfortably in the Top 20 at #17.