The film is heartbreaking in more ways than one. Not only will you be moved by the plight of these ocean creatures, but also the plight of Ric O'Barry. His name might not be familiar, but he's responsible for one of the most iconic personalities in TV history.
O'Barry captured and trained five wild dolphins for the television show Flipper, but it wasn't until after the run of the show and lead dolphin Cathy's suicide that O'Barry began to reexamine his stance on the animals.
O'Barry has spent his life from that moment working to undo what he obviously feels was largely his fault. The pain and guilt in his eyes as he talks about the dolphins and what must be done to save them is overwhelming.
It's O'Barry who brought Psihoyos and his crew to what dolphin activists have come to call The Cove in an attempt to document what was happening in the hidden cove.
Psihoyos utilized the creative efforts of KernerFX, formerly part of Industrial Light and Magic, to come up with fake rocks and birds' nests to hide high definition cameras and document the atrocities carried out in the cove.
In Taiji, ships are sent out with metal poles jetting into the water. Crew members then repeatedly hit the poles with metal hammers, creating a wall of sound that forces the dolphins to flee into a visible cove where the chosen few are singled out to be sent to marine mammal parks.
The unlucky ones are taken to an adjacent cove that is flanked by fencing, "Keep Out" signs and guard patrols. What happens in this not-so-secret cove is hinted at early when the team arrives and descends on the visible cove to survey the area.
As they are harassed by the Japanese fishermen, a single dolphin makes its way into their sight, making its was over a net barrier and swimming frantically in their direction. In its wake is a trail of blood. Then it makes its way out of the water a few times, blood spilling from its side, before succumbing and being swallowed by the ocean.
Almost as disturbing is the fact the fishermen are mockingly laughing as they retreat to their vehicles.
As the movie plays out, the audience learns about the supposed unscrupulous dealings of International Whaling Commission, the mercury toxicity of the dolphins and the talk of giving the meat away to schools.
Under the cover of night, Psihoyos leads the team to the cove, where they disperse their cameras and wait for the footage. What they find is even more horrific than they imagined.
The film closes with O'Barry entering the IWC meetings wearing a monitor on his chest displaying the secret footage the team obtained in the cove.
The biggest complaint about this movie is the fact it's a one-sided tale. There's nobody to speak for the fishermen of Taiji. It could very well be looked at as a propaganda film, but it's a message that needs to be heard.
Final Cut: The Cove is an amazing movie. It cuts like a razor and strikes at the core to drive home the message that if there is something to be done, the time is now. This film will move you in ways that a film hasn't in a long, long time.
5 out of 5 stars
Starring: Ric O'Barry, Louie Psihoyos, Simon Hutchins, Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, Kirk Krack, David Rostovich, Scott Baker
Director: Louie Psihoyos
Writer: Mark Monroe
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing content
Runtime: 1 hr. 34 min.
Available from Lionsgate Entertainment