During the Napoleonic Wars, a British frigate, HMS Surprise, and a much larger French warship, the Acheron, with greater fire power, stalk each other off of the coast of South America. Russell Crowe brings great intensity to the role of Captain Jack Aubrey. Lucky Jack, as he is referred to by his crew, is well regarded by his men, who trust him implicitly, even after the first devastating battle and an apparent personal vendetta against the French captain. While the naval battle sequences are quite fantastic, the film is successful because director Weir chose to build the story to get to know the men who are locked aboard the tight quarters of a small ship and how they interact everyday. The officers and the mates are well-known by the time the final battle comes. Paul Bettany offers a strong performance as the surgeon and naturalist who balances the violence of his chosen life with the quiet demeanor of the scientist. He is the captain's friend and confidant, the two frequently playing violin and cello duets together. The horrors of the injuries from the war are frequently implied, but vividly depicted in the reactions of the characters.