The acting is fantastic, the story is simple, and the emotions are high. Bobby De Niro is such a great actor that I think he should win an Academy Award almost every time he's on the big screen. Not counting "Meet the Parents" of course.
The movie is based on the life of Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who is willing to do just about anything to become a U.S. Navy diver in spite of intense racial bigotry in the military in the late '40's and '50's. Brashear's diving instructor is Navy master diver Billy Sunday (De Niro) who is a cross between De Niro's character in "Cape Fear" and Paul Newman's Cool Hand Luke. Crusty, scary, and zero tolerance for authority. Master Chief Sunday explains to his new diving students that there is also a famous preacher by the same name, but the difference is "...he works for God and I am God."
Gooding is solid as the tenacious diver, but his character explodes when interacting with De Niro. The story covers Brashear's life as a youngster in 1943 through the 60's and Gooding handles the changes with skill. De Niro appears to be making about two movies a year which is lucky for us, but Ms. Charlize "Bagger Vance Fox" Theron gets around, too. She plays De Niro's lushy wife and is wonderful without showing any skin. Please pay special attention when Theron and De Niro appear at a formal party as a semi drunk couple. They may be an odd match, but that screen appearance standing together immediately before De Niro gets into yet another fight with an officer is classic.. I want a poster of them together in that scene.
I got teary eyed in the beginning and the end of the movie, but the real story is De Niro, Gooding, Theron, and the rest of the cast. Not a great movie, but has great moments. Rock 'n Roll.