U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer, Senior Chief Petty Officer Ben Randall (Kevin Costner), is a man who is driven to save lives. He obviously loves the challenge and thrill of putting his life on the line daily as he jumps from ahelicopter into the violent, icy waters of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. Like many professionals in demanding, 24/7 jobs, the demands of work conflict with the demands of his home life and, as a result, his marriage is crumbling. Also, having past the age of forty, he is fighting the inevitability of being transferred from the field to a desk job. He has managed to get waivers allowing him to continue in the field but the clock is ticking and someday, sooner rather than later, he will have to face the fact that field work is for young, not middle aged, men. The final blow comes while he is in the sea attempting a rescue during a storm and a freak accident causes thehelicopter , from which he had jumped, to crash. His rescue partner manages to jump from the crashing plane and survives with serious injuries while the rest of the crew die in the crash. By the time a second rescue chopper arrives, his partner has died. After being released from the hospital, Randall is ordered to take a temporary teaching position at the Coast Guard rescue school at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana while he recovers from his physical and emotional wounds.
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Included in the new class of trainees is a cocky, former high school swimming champion, named Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher). Fischer starts off on the wrong foot immediately by announcing, following the commander's welcoming remarks, that he intended to break all the records listed on a wall plaque as having been set by a fellow named Ben Randall. Following Fischer's announcement, the commander introduces Randall, who had been standing in the back of the room, to Fischer and the rest of the class as their new teacher. There is immediate tension between Randall and Fischer, but Randall is also intrigued by Fischer who was a champion swimmer all through high school and who had turned down scholarships from several Ivy League colleges to enlist in the Coast Guard.
Randall drives the class hard, but in doing so, also imparts his knowledge and experience. Along the way he and Fischer begin to come to terms with each other. Fischer has his own serious emotional baggage and this becomes the link that bonds the two together. Under Randall's harsh guidance, Fischer matures and by graduation it is clear that he has developed the character that, combined with his superior athletic talents, make him a worthy successor to Randall as a U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer. Seeing Fischer as his professional heir, helps Randall to begin to accept the reality ofaging and allows him to start mentally preparing for the time when he will have to stop working as a rescue swimmer.
The review of this Movie prepared by Chuck Nugent