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Based on the seafaring novels of Patrick O'Brian, this big-budget adventure by Peter Weir (The Truman Show) persuasively re-creates the experience of sailing aboard a British man-o'-war during the Napoleonic era, but its story never attains comparable grandeur. Russell Crowe gives a typically committed performance as captain of the HMS Surprise, which is ambushed and seriously damaged by a French frigate in the waters north of Brazil; after refitting his ship, Crowe sets sail in pursuit of the newer and more formidable vessel, a decision that puts him at odds with his more circumspect friend, the ship's surgeon (Paul Bettany). Wondrous sequences shot on location in the Galapagos Islands provide much-needed relief from the close quarters of the ship, which is truly a character in the film and apparently Weir's favorite. PG-13, 138 min.

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