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Captain Phillips (2013)

captain_phillips_posterThe true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.

The new ‘Tom Hanks’ movie or the new ‘Paul Greengrass’ movie, fill that one in as you please. In either case, it’s a cause for celebration for many movie fans, but not me.

You see, Paul Greengrass, loved by many, hasn’t made one movie that I loved. And yes, that includes the ‘Bourne’ flicks he did.
His camera work is oftentimes shot from hand, something that I find creates a rather jagged look to his movies. However, one should never judge based on earlier work as Captain Phillips is easily his best movie to date.

The premise is, as in most cases, simple. An american captain (Tom Hanks) sees his ship being boarded by Somali Pirates and subsequently has to find a way to keep his crew and himself safe from harm.
When making a thriller it is always a case of engaging your audience. While you and I both know that mr. Phillips eventually makes it out alive, it only takes you 10 minutes to forget that fact and get sucked up in the story.

You see, with the ending being known to so many, we get a chance to really engage in the actual situation and the absurdity of it all. Pirating in 2009 isn’t something we’d expect to see, let alone live through as was the case with the crew of the Maersk Alabama.
But director Greengrass paints a picture in which both sides get adequate time to develop and show us their motivations.

Shot on open sea and with a lot of shaky cam footage (he just can’t seem to NOT do it) the movie sportsFilm-Captain Phillips a rather rough look and mr. Hanks fits his role beautifully as a hardened captain.
Are there flaws? yes.
Mr. Greengrass makes the final 30 minutes feel more like his take on how Navy Seals operate then the slow dramatic approach he used the almost 2 hours that came before.
It’s never the less what happened back in 2009, but the tonal shift is still noticeable. It’s as if he felt that the action and tension needed to be ramped up a bit more, culminating in a rather detailed account of the rescue effort and absolutely no resolvement for the Somali side of the tale.

Having said that, with Tom Hanks at his best and a story worth telling (and seeing) it’s hard to argue with the strength of Captain Phillips.

8/10 stars!

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Discussion

One thought on “Captain Phillips (2013)

  1. Great review, Paul! The last ten minutes of this movie almost brought me to tears. Hanks was incredible.

    Posted by Victor De Leon | January 27, 2014, 18:23

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