Sunday, October 27

Captain Phillips Review

Captain Phillips
Dir: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi

In 2009 four armed Somalis pirates seized the American container ship Maersk Alabama. The unarmed ship, under the supervision of Captain Richard Phillips, was placed in the world spotlight while the United States Navy and accompanying Navy Seals handled the dangerous situation, which placed Phillips in the line of fire. Director Paul Greengrass, who put his personal touch on the composition of the modern action film, guided “Captain Phillips” with an equal measure of situational immediacy and cross character analysis.

Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is at home, a family man but professionally, a rigid container vessel Captain. On the ship Phillips keeps his crew, of about 20, focused continually on the job. He conducts safety drills after hearing about recent piracy attempts in the area only to find an ambitious crew of Somalis pirates chasing his ship down. Narrowly the ship escapes but that doesn’t stop Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the Captain of his own well armed crew, from making a second attempt on the vast ship. Muse and his crew are successful at seizing control of the ship, leaving Phillips in the position of protecting his crew and also himself.

Director Paul Greengrass helped change the structure of the modern action film by adding stylistic elements to quicken the pace and realism of a scene. With “Captain Phillips” he again moved swiftly towards the action but focused attention on the character composition of Phillips. Phillips starts at home with his wife, hugs her goodbye at the port, and moves into his position of Captain in a short few scenes but it’s enough to achieve a proper idea of Phillips mentality. There were moments when the manipulated camera and composed long takes made the film have an uneasy sensibility during moments that might not otherwise accommodate those tense qualities. Greengrass unfortunately spent a little too much time building the tension in the end, making the finale feel overly manufactured.

Tom Hanks gave a performance unlike others in his recent collective. The good guy charm was substituted for a cold, no nonsense attitude as the isolated Captain. There was a great scene in the film that showcased Hanks’ ability to be both controlled and unrestrained in an emotional scene, though most impressively making it look so natural. Barkhad Abdi portrayed the determined Muse with convincing force underscored with a subtle sensitivity. These two Captains were unlikely similar, both secluded men that are doing their best in a position of authority.

Greengrass did a good job of building the excitement and frenzy in many scenes in “Captain Phillips”. Though some of those thrilling elements were undermined by an overlong third act transition, the film still portrayed some great character performances and some interesting insights into the motivations of people in desperate situations. 

Monte’s Rating

3.50 out of 5.00

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