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Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is - through director Paul Greengrass's distinctive lens - simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips' unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control. Written by
Sony Pictures Entertainment
During an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air", Tom Hanks said the first time he met the actors playing the Somali pirates was when they started filming the pirates taking over the bridge. Paul Greengrass mentioned he did this intentionally to build up tension between the actors on board the ship and the actors playing the Somali pirates. See more »
When the pirates enter the ship's wheelhouse and find most of the crew missing, pirate Najee takes crew member Quinn hostage with a .45 Colt 1911. The pistol's hammer position changes throughout this entire sequence, which is strange since we see Najee actually rack the Colt's slide as he is getting Quinn on his feet. Stranger still is the fact that the Colt's hammer is DOWN when the standoff ends, without the weapon having been fired. Since the Colt is single-action, there is no way Najee could have killed Quinn by pulling the trigger with the hammer down anyway. See more »
Captain Phillips is a biopic based on 2009's Maersk Alabama hijacking incident, which was an intriguing story and ordeal of the people involved. This film adaptation mostly plays as a straightforward thriller with only brief backstories. In spite of whatever comment regards to the accuracy this film is getting, it didn't hurt how much of an exhilarating piece of cinema this is. Merits obviously goes to director Paul Greengrass and star Tom Hanks. It's quite predictable what you'll get if you put those talents together, but the result is somehow surprising like you've never see it coming.
There's nothing much interesting happening at the first act when the film was exploring the personal life of Richard Phillips, but that seems to be the point: the dreariness of the intro immediately presumes that he really is just an ordinary guy. Though, there isn't actually enough detail about his personal life in those scenes aside of his job and his family, same with the Somali pirate leader, Muse. Everything becomes more alive when the actual plot starts going. Lives turn upside down, tension rises every minute passes, and the humanity of both Phillips and Muse are becoming more and more visible. It's a down to earth matter of life and death where both sides aren't too perfect enough to succeed or survive, and their actions could end up causing even worse situations.
Even before the release, everybody has already been betting that Tom Hanks will get a nod for this(probably because of the accent or he's just Tom Hanks). Other than mimicking the real Phillips' accent, Hanks really gives his character a palpable sense of fear and pressure. But there is one scene in his performance that will definitely give the viewers a total impact, which it might've made the camera linger. That whole scene could be a trick for some to love this movie even more, but even without it, Hanks is still spellbinding as Captain Phillips. Another amazing performance is first time actor, Barkhad Abdi. Abdi manages to be threatening, sympathetic, and strangely charismatic at the same time as Muse, thus it makes the character more effective.
Now for Greengrass, his aesthetics are all there. Shaky camera bringing momentum in every action scene, action scenes filled with nerve wracking suspense, and sidelines taking place in control rooms. But this is his challenging side, such as United 93, when there aren't any much explosions nor fighting set pieces practically involved. The title might give one an assumption that the film is about a captain who fights off pirates. But it turns out, they're just hopeless victims who do not have a single gun to defend themselves from their armed enemies. The kind of thrill here is anxiety. You will always get the sense that there is something wrong going to happen in every step these pirates take, leading the hostages really need to depend on the government and the Navy SEALs. What's smart about this is it's all mind games. They're troubled by complicated decisions, yet have awareness of naivety. At the second half, the excitement is now relied by figuring out which of them is going to be fooled by whose tricks. By the end of the film, you will then realize how limitlessly enticing it was while realistic at the same time.
Captain Phillips is almost just a very great thriller, then it eventually becomes more powerful. Despite of calling his achievement heroism, it was more like a test of courage. The movie is wise to make sure Phillips is no glossy superhero, but a regular human being who gets to face a situation that may lead anyone to trauma, just to sacrifice the risks of his crew. Simply, that may tend to inspire which is why it's so focused to his point of view. Otherwise, the filmmaking did an astonishing job, although you already know what these people can bring. But surprisingly, it still defies our expectations. It's amazing how Tom Hanks' talent can still surprise many, and how Paul Greengrass' obvious style feels unique and fresh (in this movie, at least). Rating the film can be somewhat difficult. It's so engrossing and excellent, it's hard to notice any terrible flaws about it. Later on, it doesn't matter. Captain Phillips is a satisfying ride that ultimately does its best.
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