Terror on the high seas: Captain Phillips movie review
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 13:10
Film: Captain Phillips
Release Date: Oct. 11
Studio: Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin and Trigger Street Productions
Captain Phillips begins as a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse when Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) attempts to outwit a group of Somali pirates in an effort to save himself and his crew. It turns into a plea for survival when he becomes the pirates’ sole captive in the ship’s small lifeboat.
Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) Captain Phillips recounts the harrowing true story of Captain Richard Phillips’ actions after armed pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia in April of 2009.
The tense biopic thriller places the relationship between Captain Phillips and Muse (Barkhad Abdi) – the leader of the Somali pirates – at the forefront as they struggle to cope with events escalating beyond their control during the six-day crisis.
With a screenplay based off Captain Richard Phillips’ memoir “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea,” Captain Phillips is an outstanding, tense and heartfelt film that speaks to an affinity for real-life action in a time of crisis.
Barry Ackroyd’s (The Hurt Locker) cinematography along with Greengrass’ directing does a great job presenting the larger forces at work within Captain Phillips’ narrative without detracting from the story at hand. Greengrass’ notorious use of “shaky cam” comes into play a few times and, although some people dislike the technique, its limited use within the film serves as a way to make the action on screen more tense and energetic.
Aside from a coincidental drill-turned-real-life scenario near the onset of the film when the hijackers first try to take the ship, events within the movie never feel beyond the realm of reason.
Muse and the other three pirates may serve as the villains, but their motivations are portrayed in a way that makes their actions feel necessary. The film’s commentary on the effects of globalization brings deeper meaning to the film and makes the situation they are forced into more powerful.
As the U.S Navy becomes increasingly involved in stopping the pirates from escaping and saving Captain Phillips, tension within the film continues to rise. As Navy SEALs get involved, the film comes to a relieving and heartbreaking conclusion.
Tom Hanks delivers his best performance in years, anchoring the audience into a character who is intrinsically relatable through his actions and emotions. Though we are given very little insight into Captain Phillips, we are drawn to the character as the film’s narrative progresses.
Other than Hanks and a few known actors, the mostly unknown cast brings an unexpected level of believability into the film, especially when it comes to the four pirates – all of whom made their debut performances in Captain Phillips.
Although Hank’s portrayal of Captain Phillips will garnish a lot of attention, it is impossible to watch the film without noticing Abdi’s astonishing performance as Muse. Despite making his film debut in Captain Phillips, Abdi is able to gain sympathy from the audience as a character who could have easily been portrayed as a despicable villain.
With Tom Hanks in front of the camera and Greengrass behind it, the final few moments of Captain Phillips encapsulate what makes the film so great. All the while providing a much-needed break in the relentless tension, which begins at the film’s onset with a shot of Phillips’ home. The events of the film may have happened a few years ago, but that doesn’t stop Captain Phillips from enthralling the audience into its brilliance.