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Near the top of the Hanks ladder
dfranzen7010 October 2013
Based on true events, Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips is the rarest of thrillers, the kind that relies on neither distracting special effects nor circumspect character development. Driven by a powerful, soul-baring performance by the inimitable Tom Hanks, the movie never lags, never oversells the plight of its characters, never reduces anyone or anything to mere caricature.

Hanks is the titular captain of the United States container ship MV Maersk Alabama, cruising along the coast of Somalia with a full load and heading toward the horn of Africa. Two skiffloads of armed Somalis close in, ready to board the vessel. They're pirates, working for a warlord in their impoverished country, and they smell opportunity.

If this were a standard action flick, we might see the heroism of Phillips and his motley crew as they fight the evil pirates and save the world. It's not so here. There are nuances afoot; for once, we get the perspective of the lead pirate (Barkhad Abdi) without falling into the easy trap of feeling empathy toward him.

The pirates board the giant ship, clearly pleased with their find. Muse (Abdi) quickly proves himself to be a strong, humanistic leader; he's single minded (where's the crew? where's the goods?) but not sinister. His gang includes a strong man with a quick temper and Muse's own relative, who'd begged to come along on the mission - a mission that, when successful, would go a long way to improving their lives.

The movie is told in two distinct halves: the time spent by the pirates on the Maersk as they search in vain for treasure and crew, and the time spent in the ship's lifeboat as they make their way to Somalia. The villains are conflicted and desperate. And armed. But they're quickly immersed in an impossible situation.

This is one of the toughest, most naked performances of Hanks' stellar career. It's sometimes painful and heart wrenching to watch. He's an Everyman, per usual, but he's not also a savior or a hero. He doesn't suddenly develop super strength and overpower the bad guys. He's just a guy in charge of a boat and its passengers.

Matching him wit for wit while frantically trying to keep his own wits about him is Abdi as the skinny, intelligent Muse, seemingly a veteran of high piracy (though not against huge container ships). Abdi is a wonder to watch; unpredictable and cunning but a little greedy and rapidly running out of viable options. Truly a talent to look out for, Abdi nails this role.

The ending is predictable only in the most general sense. Bill Ray's screenplay does not duck some plausible consequences to the actions of each main player and leaves us with a scene that is as emotionally overpowering as anything in Hanks' previous Philadelphia.

It seems that every time Tom Hanks makes a good movie, people begin to label it as "Oscar bait," as if the movie were created just as a vehicle to earn an award. Captain Phillips delivers a tight, action-packed story fraught with none of the usual missteps of the genre, and if it is indeed rewarded with the highest of honors, it will be well deserved.
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Taut, thrilling and surprising empathetic
Colmo2k410 October 2013
What a stunning film - the imminent threat of deadly violence tempered with the tragic circumstances that drive people to such desperate actions made for a very human story.

If Hanks is nominated for an Oscar for this, then Barkhad Abdi deserves a nomination too, because their scenes together were electric - never once did Abdi appear the junior party, every bit Hank's equal as two cunning foes trying to outfox one another.

The best lines in the film were perhaps when Phillips beseeched of Muse: "Surely there's something other than fishing and kidnapping people you could do?"

To which Muse replied, sombrely: "In America, maybe".

It's a must see, the best film I've seen this year.
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Like a time machine to the year 2009, you'd be taken.
AndrewZaki18 January 2014
That went a lot higher than my expectations. I was thinking an okay movie, but that was more than just okay. Truly impressive powerful thriller.

The movie's strength points could be summed up:

1. Greengrass's thrillers are really fine, I like his The Bourne Ultimatum with his shaky camera tricks. And here he is doing it again maybe with different techniques. As a thriller, Greengrass managed to make this movie get on your nerves and put so much tension, and that's a success.

2. The Somali crew.. Now, that's some serious impressive sh*t. Some Somali dudes you have never seen their faces in a movie before come and make such spectacular performances, that's something you should admire. It made the movie so believable that you'd sometimes forget it's just a movie. Barkhad Abdi has made a huge step in his career with this movie and that was crowned by his nomination for the best actor in a supporting role. He probably won't get it, but he deserved it.

3. Tom Hanks is just a really fine actor. He was driving the whole thing with his convincing performance. I still can't believe he got my tearing in that scene, or let's just say crying. Greengrass has taken him to squeeze some fine acting skills.

4. Fair screenplay that didn't make you forget that justice should be done, no matter how the conditions the person lives in, but it also pushed the eyes to take a look into the world that would produce such people as pirates.
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Pretty Damn Good
marcus-blakelock10 October 2013
It's fair to say that the movies which have been walking away with Box Office numbers this year have been either big superhero movies or big sci-fi movies. If you're wondering whether or not you should go and see this film because it looks like something a little different DO IT! This is a film, regardless if you already know the story, which delivers excellent acting, excellent moments of tension and excellent use of emotion which ,when you leave the theatre, won't be difficult to feel at all. Now if you're still considering whether or not you should go and see this film, let's address the rumours you might have already heard: 1.There's been a lot of talk about Tom Hanks potentially claiming another Oscar - yes he simply HAS to be up for contention after this. True in the first half of the film he doesn't necessarily have to be all out emotional, but he does enough so that when we reach the second half and ultimately the final act, we are in as much shock and awe as the character of Richard Phillips through watching his performance. 2. A few people have said "too much Tom Hanks." There's two sides to this: Obviously he's going to be in the story a lot because he is the star BUT he doesn't give the only good performance here; the Somali pirates are truly terrifying, not just because of what they are but because their characters have a lot of uncertainty making them very unpredictable. 3. Some people are saying it's overrated and we've seen it all before. I'm not claiming its the greatest movie ever made, but what I am saying is its definitely worth a look. So if you're worried about wasting some cash don't be, it's definitely a film you won't regret paying for.
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Paul Greengrass directs another tension driven film bringing Tom Hanks to the forefront...
ClaytonDavis27 September 2013
Hours after the World Premiere of Paul Greengrass' newest psychological thriller "Captain Phillips," my heart is still palpating at a hundred beats per minute. Starring the magnificent Tom Hanks in his finest performance since "Cast Away," this edge-of-your-seat thrill ride lands as one of the best films of the New York Film Festival and the year.

An intricate and precisely executed thriller written by Billy Ray, everything about "Captain Phillips" works amazingly. It's this year's "Zero Dark Thirty" in tension and features not one, but two fierce performances from Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi. A loose dramatization and not a fact to fact retelling of a dark day for an American captain, the film takes us through the days Captain Richard Phillips' cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. The film unravels itself with a narrative intensity bringing our hero from the day of his departure to the end of his journey. Writer Billy Ray's detailed and well-structured script provides Greengrass to do exactly what he does best in his directorial efforts. There are definite elements in "Captain Phillips" that remind me of the emotional and gut- wrenching effect that "United 93" had on so many of us nearly seven years ago. While you will have a near heart attack, you will be in tears by the end credits.

I haven't been this impressed with the work of Tom Hanks in years. Putting every ounce of his charm to good use but digging deep into a character with such raw and emotional fervency. Hanks' dedication and abilities utilized are the same tools used in his first Oscar-winning performance in "Philadelphia" I assure you. It's a turn that could make him this year's Daniel Day-Lewis. As his wife, the beautiful Catherine Keener is regulated to one single scene, at the beginning of our film, where Hanks dominates the conversation. Still a cherry on top if you ask me but not something that many will notice nor remember..

Breakthrough performer Barkhad Abdi is simply sensational. With a snarky demeanor as he calls Capt. Phillips "Irish" - Abdi plays Muse, a Somali pirate that is layered with pride and disdain for the human condition. Billy Ray gives him such a complexity, hinting at a sensitive undertone but not masking the overtly violent rage that embodies his soul; it's a creative formula that equals an interesting dichotomy. Abdi administers these traits brilliantly.

As you expect any Paul Greengrass film to be, the technical executions are top-notch including the intimate Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd and the tight editing of Christopher Rouse, both sure-fire Oscar nominees for awards season.

One of the amazing things about "Captain Phillips" is the final twenty minutes or so. Pent-up emotion that has built for nearly two hours, our hero's last moments with the audience are both triumphant and incredibly vulnerable. This is when Tom Hanks shows his true power as one of the finest actors to grace our screens. I admire the man. He captures the real human condition, both in courage and in the face of defeat. How would you react in what you thought could be your final moments on Earth? Who would you think about? What about if you did make it? Would you be so overcome with emotion that you couldn't focus on the blanket of safety that surrounds you, or would you just crumble into the fetus position, wanting to return to your place of origin? "Captain Phillips" renewed my love of the movies. It's what breathes life into my daily routine. It fascinates us and which is why, no matter how terrible our lives are, or how the economy falls beneath our feet, cinema still lives. Free as a bird. I'm in awe of all of this. I feel privileged to share those moments. Not to be hyperbolic or put focus on the Oscar race, which is what I do for a living, but "Captain Phillips" showed me what Tom Hanks really means to cinema. Our lives are habitual and ordinary at times, yet someone, every now and again, has the ability to capture those little quirks of our own selves. I think Hanks is this generation's treasure that will be remembered for years to come. I'm in near tears as I write this now. Paul Greengrass brought me personally into a situation that I will likely never be in and examined my frail and defenseless spiritual nature. Connection. That's what cinema is about. Few films do this. Many never will.

To get off the somber note, "Captain Phillips" is filled with high- levels of tension. Bring your defibrillator and a bottle of Xanex to make it through the picture as your heart will be beating outside of your chest. In so many ways, it's the perfect film. Real life, authentic characters, and a cast and crew that show up to deliver some of their finest works. A dynamite lesson of the human psyche.

"Captain Phillips" opens in theaters October 11.
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Exhausting, Thrilling and Powerful.
gt-thereelword10 October 2013
Paul Greengrass has proved his talents with two fantastic Bourne films, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, and two impressive real-life dramas, Bloody Sunday and United 93. Green Zone, while being a little like Bourne in Baghdad, was also a worthy thriller. Captain Phillips sees Greengrass deliver another true story to the big screen, proving that he is indeed the current king of cinematic re-enactments.

Tom Hanks gives one of his finest performances in a long time. His Captain Phillips is a professional, serious man that keeps his emotions in check while sternly ensuring his crew understands his expectations. As the situation escalates, his emotions begin to creep through. Leading towards a final release that is both heartbreaking and relieving. Hanks' character isn't explored too deeply, but we are nevertheless with him every step of the way.

In a fantastic casting choice, Tom Hanks is more than matched by Barkhad Abdi, who truly shines as the lead pirate. We're given more access than expected to this character – to all four pirates for that matter. Abdi manages to evoke empathy from a character that could have easily succumbed to stereotypical villainy. His performance provides a complex level of emotion to the proceedings. He knows that the situation has easily ran away from him, yet he naively decides to re-assure himself – and Captain Phillips – every chance he gets.

This is no-nonsense filmmaking of the highest order. Paul Greengrass' kinetic camera rises above the sometimes dizzying approach from some of his last films. The hand-held factor works beautifully here, ensuring the you-are-there level of realism is cranked to a ten at every second. As the events escalate, we are always kept aware of what is happening. While skipper jargon and navy terms are exclaimed every which way, care is placed on making sure we still know exactly what is going on. Billy Ray (Breach, State of Play, The Hunger Games) constructs a taut and clear screenplay that compliments Greengrass' filmmaking style.

To call this tense is an understatement. Henry Jackman's score pushes every sequence to an almost unbearable level of tension, Barry Ackroyd's cinematography beautifully captures the sweat and intensity of every moment, and Christopher Rouse's masterful editing brings it all home.

Exhausting and thrilling, Captain Phillips is all the more powerful with the knowledge that you're witnessing a true story. Paul Greengrass and co. have crafted an experiential film that you won't be forgetting in a hurry.

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Challenging Fortitude
billygoat107118 October 2013
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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On Board With Modern-Day Pirates!
3xHCCH14 October 2013
"Captain Phillips" is the Hollywood retelling of the true-to-life 2009 harrowing story of an American container vessel Maersk Alabama (with Captain Richard Phillips at the helm) being held hostage by Somali pirates. The screenplay by Billy Ray was based on the novel "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea" written by Captain Richard Phillips himself.

Playing the titular character, Tom Hanks is what this film is all about. He starts off simply, playing Capt. Phillips as a family man and seasoned seaman on a routine delivery. However when the pirates came, you see him transform into a cool-under-pressure leader and shrewd tactician, matching wits with these desperate aggressors. In the last five minutes, Hanks would give us an unexpected display of emotion which may well deliver him another Oscar for Best Actor.

The four Somali-American first-time actors playing the pirates are a very realistic bunch. They play with wild-eyed and feral intensity, really scary. Barkhad Abdi plays their skinny foolhardy leader Muse, engaging Phillips in a deadly chess game, toe-to-toe. Faysal Ahmed plays the hot-headed Najee, who was the loose cannon of the group. Barkhad Abdirahman plays the young recruit Bilal, getting himself a baptism of fire on his first time out.

When I saw the name director Paul Greengrass in the credits, I understood why the sense of tension and urgency were so well-conveyed. This was that familiar sense of excitement we felt in his previous films, like the last two Jason Bourne films or that suspenseful 9/11 drama "United 93". He really knows how to make military operations exciting on screen, as he did for the Army in "Green Zone" and the Navy SEALS in this film.

I have to admit I was on the verge of getting seasick with the shakiness of the camera, but luckily I held on despite the two-hour length of the film set at sea.

Overall, this is a different sort of adventure drama, with a topic not too commonly tackled in a mainstream film. We hear of these events on the news, but this film brings us right in the middle of one. We will feel the tension building as the pirates were approaching. We will feel the fear when the pirates were on board. We will feel the desperation and the frustration of being trapped in the middle of the open ocean with no help immediately forthcoming. If you are up for such a realistic experience, then this film is for you.
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Very tense & makes you think about both sides of the event and if the pirates were really evil or not. I say B+.
cosmo_tiger14 October 2013
"It was supposed to be easy. I take over ship, get paid, no one gets hurt." In 2009 a Somali named Muse (Abdi) is in trouble and needs to get money for his boss fast or face the consequences. His plan is to hijack a cargo ship and hold it ransom until he gets his money. When he boards a ship captained by Rich Phillips (Hanks) he thinks he found his answer to his problems, but things only get worse for all involved. This is a true story. It's always more fun to watch a movie that is also a true story and even better when you see one that you remember the events when it was happening. As far as the movie goes it starts off pretty slow but grows more and more tense as it goes on. As great an actor as Tom Hanks is I found myself thinking that this is really a part that many people could pull off. Then I watched the last 20 minutes and realized why they got Hanks. Much like the movie Apollo 13, when you watch a movie that you know how it ends but still end up shedding a tear it is because of great filmmmaking. This falls into that category. A movie that builds momentum the entire time. Starts off slow but by the end you are hoping for more. I liked it. Overall, tense and makes you think about both sides of the event and if the pirates were really evil or not. I give it a B+.
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Action the Greengrass way
Buddy-517 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Based on an event that garnered worldwide attention in 2009, "Captain Phillips" tells the tale of two total strangers, both hailing from opposites corners of the earth, who are brought together by circumstance and fate.

One of those individuals is Richard Phillips, the captain of an unarmed cargo ship sailing through international waters off the coast of Africa en route to Mombasa, and the other is Abduwali Muse, the leader of a band of Somali pirates who are determined to board the ship and hold its captain and crew hostage for ransom.

Billy Ray has based his screenplay on the book "A Captain's Duty" by Steven Talty and Phillips himself. The movie, directed with his usual taut precision by Paul Greengrass, relates the story in step-by-step detail, exploring the relationship between these two wildly disparate but equally desperate captains, as a thrilling real-life drama plays itself out on the high seas. While Phillips' self-sacrificing heroism - and that of the Navy Seals who successfully took out three of the four pirates - takes center stage in the drama, Ray is still able to give Abduwali his due, making it clear that the young man has been driven to this action as much out of desperation as out of greed or criminal intent, since illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste on the part of foreigners in that area have pretty much depleted the Somali fishing grounds, leaving men like Abduwali without any viable means of supporting themselves and their families. Sadly, piracy becomes the next obvious step in the struggle for survival. It would have been easy to have turned Abduwali and his cohorts into one-dimensional villains, but, to their credit, Ray and Greengrass have chosen not to do so.

This complexity of character is attributable in no small measure to the outstanding performances by veteran Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his work here. Together, they create a human dynamic that carries the film far beyond the heart-stopping, race-against-the-clock surface aspects of the drama. Not that the visceral is in any way slighted, for in true Greengrass fashion, the film moves along at a breakneck pace, rarely slowing down to give the audience a chance to catch its breath along the way.

By far, the most effective scene in the movie comes right near the end, after Phillips has been rescued and is taken to the ship's trauma center to ascertain his physical and mental condition. Unlike the vast majority of movies and TV shows in which characters who are subjected to horrifying circumstances seem to bounce back from them almost immediately, "Captain Phillips" shows us the true human response to a life-shattering, traumatic event (thanks in no small measure to Hanks' magnificent acting).

It is just this type of insightful verisimilitude that informs each and every moment of "Captain Phillips."
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A superb and fascinating thriller with a top-drawer acting by Tom Hanks
ma-cortes21 November 2013
This is a powerful and intensely watchable film , a masterful exercise in building tension . Director Paul Greengrass has established himself as a huge talent . This is the 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 first encounter with the young Somalis who chase and board the gigantic Maersk Alabama is on the shores of their homeland, delving , briefly but significantly , into the poverty that drives fishermen to risk life and limb in pursuit of deep sea big game . As the crew of an American cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates who proceed to engage in escalating negotiations with authorities to get a lot of money . Amongst the men on board are the ship's captain who along with the rest of the seamen are taken hostage in a cynical game of life and death.

It's a grade A picture , a gem , absorbing , riveting , highly moving , incredibly tense . This is a psychological drama in which a group of violent pirates demand for a ransom of millions of dollars , it unfolds a battle of wits between the crew of the shipping company and the Somali pirates . This is a smart and sensitive thriller filled with noisy action , thrills , emotion and very entertaining though overlong . Thrilling as well as exciting confrontation of wits between captain Phillips , seamen and pirates , who gradually come to up more and more . This drama about the capture on the high seas of an American ship is doubtless the most exciting one that has ever come down the pike about . This nail-biter is a tightly-knit drama centered on the relentless sea maneuvers of a freighter pursued by a band of pirates and the captain's subsequent kidnapping . The picture makes up for it with an evolving atmosphere of anxiety and fear .

Everything in Paul Greengrass's impressive film looks so real that you might think it's a high resolution videotape of a pirate hijacking . Interesting screenplay , being based upon the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" . And the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama and hostage-taking of Captain Phillips were also central to the Elmore Leonard novel Djibouti (2010). The timing of the release coincides with the theatrical release of a Danish movie titled "Kapringen" or ¨A Hijacking¨ (2012) by Tobias Lindholm dealing with similar events . Top-notch performance by Tom Hanks as a clever as well astute captain along with a remaining support cast formed by unknown African players . Tom Hanks says 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 Somaili pirates. In ¨Captain Phillips¨ there is the urgent hand-held camera-work, a directorial trademark refined and perfected by cameraman Barry Ackroyd , which lends an air of pseudo-documentary authenticity to carefully staged reconstructions, putting us right there in the huddle of the action . Furthermore , a tense as well as enjoyable musical score by Henry Jackman .

The motion picture was compellingly directed by Paul Greengrass who proved his action aesthetics and nail-biting filmmaking as well as he formerly made in ¨Green zone¨, ¨The Bourne ultimatum¨ , ¨United 93¨, ¨Bourne supremacy¨ , ¨Bloody Sunday¨, among others . Rating : Above average , a magnificent film . Essential and indispensable seeing . The picture will appeal to Tom Hanks fans .
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Voices of the voiceless
tieman643 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"Of the crooked timber, no straight thing can ever be made." - Immanuel Kant

Paul Greengrass directed "United 93" in 2006. The film was marketed as an "apolitical" and "objective" account of the September 11th attacks, but was devoid of all historical context, and so functioned more as a Pentagon propaganda piece. Here was a film about a handful of state assisted Saudi Arabians attacking at least 3 high profile US buildings which totally ignored the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia, totally ignored how these attacks were used as a pretext to launch two illegal wars, totally ignored US ties to Al Qaeda, the group purportedly behind the attacks (on the very day of 9/11, the US were collaborating with Al Qaeda within the Macedonia civil war), and totally ignored both the motivations behind the attacks and what certain Saudi's stood to gain from another Western crusade. To this date, the 9/11 Commission, the White House, FBI, CIA and British government have failed to provide proof (not garnered from water-boarding) that Al Qaeda carried out 9/11 or that Al Qaeda chieftain Osama Bin Laden masterminded the attacks, let alone that these groups or individuals constitute the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, the two countries upon whom wars of retaliation were subsequently waged. Osama Bin Laden was killed in 2011 (again no evidence was presented to the public). In 2001, before the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush administration turned down offers by Afghanistan's Taliban groups to turn Bin Laden peacefully over to US authorities.

Like "United 93", "Captain Phillips" revolves around a vessel being hijacked. Here the Maersk Alabama, a Danish/American container ship, is boarded by four armed Somali pirates. The pirates battle with the Alabama's crew, before escaping with the ship's captain (Tom Hanks) aboard a lifeboat. The United States Navy then arrives. They surround this lifeboat with a small fleet and proceed to assassinate three pirates. The fourth survives, and is subsequently jailed in America. Captain Phillips survives.

Whilst Greengrass obviously sympathises with both his Somalis and the crew of the Alabama, you simply can't frame a film as a thriller, or depend heavily on the US Navy loaning you a flotilla of aircraft carriers and destroyers, and not expect it to be anything other than compromised. This is ultimately a film in which the Somalis are manic bad guys (high on drugs, no less), in which the Alabama's crew are good guys "delivering aid to Africa" (most of their cargo wasn't relief aid), in which all context is ignored and in which the US Navy does "murderous but wholly necessary things". The film is matter-of-fact to a fault. This is all there is to reality, it says. Accept it.

But as everyone knows, to the point of being smugly annoying, that is not "all there is". The Somali pirates are largely a result of Western companies dumping nuclear and toxic waste off Somalia's coast, coupled to severe illegal over-fishing by foreign super trawlers (300 million dollars worth of seafood stolen from Somalia each year). The United Nations would itself release numerous reports blaming toxic waste for mutations, deaths, diseases and illnesses within Somalia. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia, would say: "There is uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury, industrial, radioactive, hospital and chemical waste killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean." Why can companies do this? Because Somalia's government has all but collapsed, thanks to Western Empires deliberately destabilizing and developmentally arresting the nation, funding warlords, dictators (Siad Barre et al) and instigating proxy wars with border nations. This has been going on, uninterrupted, since the late 1950s; any local government body not beholden to Western corporate interests, and which attempts to nationalise resources, will be destroyed.

In the early 2000s, Somalia began to fight back. To oppose US-backed warlords, right-wing religious factions began to unite, some under the name The Union of Islamic Courts. The UIC united almost all of Somalia and provided stability, but was nevertheless swiftly demonized by the West – their unwitting creators - as "Islamist terrorists". Because the CIA solves everything with bullets and blood, the US and UK then pushed its Ethiopian puppets into invading Somalia. Tens of thousands died and the UIC was pushed back. Tired of all this crap, and forged in a cocktail of anarchy, the militant group Al Shabaab was formed, partially to fight off Western and Ethiopian gangs. Today, they are US public enemy number 1.

Whilst Greengrass undoubtedly intends his film to be a work of social critique, possibly like some of his earlier pictures ("The Green Zone"), "Captain's" narrow scope hampers things. You can not tackle such a loaded event in such a constrictive manner and expect it not to set up, intentionally or otherwise, many false assumptions. One senses Greengrass attempting something approaching satire – the idea of a film in which a zillion dollar US fleet is absurdly pitted against four lowly pirates who literally struggle to "climb to the top of a (socioeconomic?) ladder" is genius – but satire is completely beyond him. Juxtaposed scenes in which Hanks and our pirates talk about "fighting for promotions" feel, for example, reductive rather than enlightening.

Beyond politics, the film is tense, well shot, but also repetitive and overlong. The casting of Hanks brings dubious (and possibly ironic) connotations, Hanks the poster boy for a post-John Wayne Americana ("Apollo 13", "Private Ryan", "Band of Brothers"), genteel but packing heat. Philosopher Jacques Ellul once predicted that future propaganda would increasingly portray itself as being "apolitical", "naturalistic" and cloak itself in "realism". Greengrass' military-men are emblematic of this shift: grim, stoic and fixated on "just doing their jobs", everything forever outside their purview and moral radar. Greengrass' camera adopts the same stance.

6/10 – Wastes a good premise.
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I'm just a cook...
rooee24 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Cinema has come a long way since Under Siege. The titular hero of this story is no expert in hand-to-hand or weapons and tactics. He's definitely not a cook.

Tom Hanks is Richard Phillips, captain of the Alabama cargo ship, en route to Mombasa via Somali no-man's water. Muse (impressive newcomer Barkhad Abdi) arrives with a handpicked crew of pirates, and they board the Alabama. Nail-biting tension and hostage-taking will follow. It's best that one goes into the film knowing no more.

Paul Greengrass is the best director working today in the authentic documentary aesthetic. He knows that the drama is in the detail. Captain Phillips' most thrilling moments are when Greengrass is most exacting and pedantic about characters' relative positions within the environment. That sounds kind of formal, but then Greengrass's shaky-cam does veil an essential precision. He focuses on the immediate situation, leaving us the viewers to picture it in the wider political context.

As with Kathryn Bigelow, Greengrass's anti-polemical style is occasionally a curse but mostly a blessing. The action may occur on the surface, but there's depth beneath the objectivity – perhaps best encapsulated in the image of three mighty US warships surrounding a tiny craft in international waters.

The implicit themes are globalisation and imperialism. The opportunism of the pirates is met with a defence based on an escalating chain of command. It's chaos versus structure; improvisation versus meticulous contingency planning. Money is nothing without an entrenched system to contain it and protect it. Sorry, Africa – we'll throw food parcels in your direction but we won't help you build long-term infrastructure plans, and you sure as hell can't step on "our" turf.

When the pirates are first approaching the Alabama, Muse presents his gang as seaborne law enforcers, and I couldn't help thinking of the United States' assumed position as "world police"...

More than anything, Captain Phillips reminds us of the power of Hanks and Greengrass, two servants of cinema at the absolute top of their game, and that should be recommendation enough. It's worth paying to see – please don't pirate it!
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Tom Hanks will nearly bring to tears
DarkVulcan2914 October 2013
Based on the true story, in March 2009, Captain Philips(Tom Hanks) who is running an oil tanker. Which starts out as a simply run, soon becomes a nightmare when African pirates with machine guns take over the ship. Philips has the crew hide, while he tries to talk to the pirates. How will it all end for Captain Philips?

Paul Greengrass direction was brilliant, the movie is very suspenseful, it has you on the edge of your seat, on how it's going to end. Now it does slow down in spots, but it does keep your interest. Tom Hanks performance is Oscar worthy, he makes you such an emotional depth. The setting is perfect, you'll feel like you are being taken hostage with him.
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The Definition of Over-dramatization
in19841 December 2013
4.5 of 10. From the beginning car conversation to the end, this feels like an over-dramatization made worse and more artificial with voice overs. To make it worse, it's far too long for this kind of story.

What should be a heroic tragedy is little more than a military-industrial, flag-waving, propaganda film. And I'm fairly certain the military doesn't read international people arrested for crimes their rights as an American citizen. So much fake stuff like this takes what should also feel more like a documentary and makes it into what only deserves showing on TV during Memorial, Independence, or Veterans Day weekend.
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Review: Captain Phillips Night Film Reviews
lucasnochez11 November 2013
I'm not sure if there is some sort of unwritten rule in Hollywood to pump out glorified films of American icons or a quota for the "Based On A True Story: American Hero" genre. With the likes of Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down, and G.I Joe: Retaliation, there is only one way to distinguish these films from the likes of Captain Phillips, and that's the talent behind, and in front of the screen.

Captain Phillips is a clever, beautiful and meticulous piece of American propaganda. Brought out by its studios Columbia Pictures and Sony, it tells the story of a Captain of an American cargo ship being taken over by a small and young band of inexperienced Somali pirates.

Think of it like this; the film is directed by Paul Greengrass, the same director of United 93, a film that recounts the efforts of average American passengers foiling the plans of foreign terrorist plans during 9/11; it stars our generation's own Humphrey Bogart, and arguably the most recognizable American actor right now, Tom Hanks, and its produced by the team behind other contemporary American classics like The Social Network. So why is Captain Phillips sinking right out of the water?

I know that, for the most part, I will be in the vast minority with my viewpoint on the film, already gaining critical praise and reception from early festival screenings and talk, most noticeably for Hanks' performance. But what about the performances of the practically unknown, amateur and first time Somali actors who, not only hold their own beside the masterful Hanks, but at times tower over time like a freighter ship beside a life vessel. Pirates Muse (Barkhad Abdi) and Bilal (Barkhad Abdirahman) stand out more than the other two pirates, but as the award season nears closer, I am sure neither of these names will be announced as serious award contenders when the time comes.

What is most disappointing about Captain Phillips is its massive potential. The film starts off, giving the audience equal screen time to both the protagonist and antagonist, showing the lives of these two very different men and the 'jobs' they must perform in order to survive. One individual is a captain of a cargo ship who steers heavy waters to get shipments into port on time; the other is a fisherman who is violently forced to become a Somali pirate for a larger, more corrupt entity. Greengrass and screenwriter Billy Ray briefly touch upon the incongruencies of both men's worlds and different upbringings as well as viewpoints, but, shortly after, is drowned with scenes of unapologetic American patriotism.

As for Tom Hanks, well, Hanks does what he does best throughout the course of the film. There is no denying Hanks as a powerhouse actor and fine entertainer, just not with the presence of other actors. Some of Hanks' most memorable and recognized performances (Cast Away, The Terminal, Cloud Atlas) are ones when he is interacting with only himself. Captain Phillips is a testament to that notion; delivering his best and most emotional scenes in either a lifeless life vessel or disoriented and unresponsive to an aiding nurse, Hanks delivers his signature Tom Hanks characteristic, just with a different accent.

Unfortunately for Greengrass and company, Captain Phillips is an unaware, self-reflexive, continuing practice of the "home of the brave and land of the free" stretching its muscles. Just last year, making its premiere at the Venice and Toronto film festival circuit, a Danish film, titled A Hijacking made its rounds internationally, and then shortly after, in a limited theatre bout. The film never found footing after its critical praise and strong reception from audiences. The trailer is also oddly familiar to the style and narrative of Captain Phillips. Yet again, the Hollywood studio system just goes to show that with the right actor and precise director, no idea is safe of Hollywood's ongoing obsession of being uncreative.

Emotionally charged, suspenseful and paced brilliantly, it is hard to ignore Captain Phillips as one's familiar, unsteady first boat ride–it may be a bit nauseating, rough, and hard. Making you reconsidering jumping on again.

Night Film Reviews: 5/10 Stars
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no where near as good as i was hoping
grumpy-310 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The first thing to say about this film is its at least 30 minutes too long. Why almost everyone now has to stretch films out to running times that do not warrant the story is beyond me. It is a simple and true tale of a man battling great odds, which i think could have been told in a better way. We never get to see how is family are coping with the situation, this would have given the film its much needed emotional kick. The thing the carries the film is Tom Hanks' obvious charisma, but even with that half way through it starts to become tedious, the lifeboat section seemed to go on and on, there was too much repetition and no movement forward just so that the film makers could get the film to over two hours. It also has a terrible ending with the Captain being shouted at by a nurse with one of the worst voices i have come across, she just does not shut up, this was supposed to be therapeutic but was very grating.
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Moderately Entertaining
pinkled524 October 2013
This movie left me a little underwhelmed. It was watchable but nothing exciting or amazing. The second half of the movie seems to drag on for far too long. Additionally, I thought the characters weren't developed all that much. Who are these pirates and why do they do what they do? Money, yeah I get that. But I would have liked to see more development. Same goes for the Cap's crew. Who are they? Why should we care if they get captured or killed? The movie doesn't really do a good job of drawing me into the characters or their backgrounds. It plays more like a dramatized news story, or a rescue 911 extended episode. Interesting, but quickly forgettable.

I will, however, commend the actors on their fine acting. Especially the final scene in which Tom Hanks really gives a great performance in the one moment the movie actually made me care about anything that was happening on the screen.
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These High Review Scores Are Fake
natebouchard30 November 2013
I tend to write comprehensive reviews but for this movie there is simply no need. It's plain boring and the high scores it's receiving are clearly just due to marketing, in the same way that Justin Bieber has more fake twitter followers than real ones.

The acting is just fine but the plot is practically non-existent. Between pirates getting on a cargo ship and Navy Seals shooting some faces, what is in between in not an exposé on the unfortunate causes for this piracy problem (only 3 lines are said on the topic) nor is it a tense thriller (unless you think listening to Somalian men rant, fueled by claustrophobia and general cluelessness every other minute is a riveting way to spend 2 hours). The script is garbage, the pirates are absolute morons and Tom Hanks does little but mumble or sit quietly. This is a 15 minute short stretched into a feature length that gives you the hope of something interesting happening until you realize it's building towards nothing and you've just wasted your time.
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temrok916 November 2013
I really can't understand what one can enjoy in this movie.It is almost unwatchable thanks to the constant movement of the camera that is supposed to take us into the very reality of the situation, and, if we want to be honest, this is a trick that directors use very often today to avoid the trouble of thinking how to shoot the plans and how to give pace to their movies through more skillful ways.To me the film was a pointless torture of my senses and I strongly recommend avoid at all cost!The plot is so predictable that you only wait for the things you know will happen to happen, and scene after scene the repetition is so annoying that the only reason I didn't leave the theater was that I was with some friends and we couldn't all agree to leave.And don't forget the message in the end!
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Motion Sick
donkeyrokman-823-22601020 October 2013
My wife and I were looking forward to seeing this movie. We love Tom Hanks, and the trailer looked good and the story was compelling. But we had to leave after only 30 minutes, because the shaky camera BS made it too hard to watch the movie, and my wife got sick. Ready to throw up sick. I just don't see the point behind this kind of film-making. This wasn't the Blair Witch Project. It wasn't "ostensibly" filmed by an amateur with a hand-held video camera. This "technique" doesn't even make the scenes more "realistic", because the human eye doesn't see action in a shaky camera way. It's just annoying. Really annoying. I wish they'd stop making movies this way. If you get motion sick at all, don't waste your money on the big screen version. Wait for the rental version...maybe it won't be so bad.
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Is it really based on true story?!!
houman-fathi23 October 2013
1. First of all I should confess Tom Hanks was perfect as always, specially in the last episode. He looked like a natural born captain. 2. I liked close up recording with motion, but not for a long movies like this one. 3. Really? Is it based on true story?!! Does it mean US NAVY should participate with an aircraft carrier, chopper, two ships, and so many sniper and ... in a simple kidnapping by 4 Somalian laymen? This amount of navy were enough to capture the whole Somali! 4. The first hour of the movie was masterpiece, but after US NAVY entered it became a comic movie. I think American people can find how their taxes waste easily in army.
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Just wondering
dusan-2216 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Hi there, how are you? Are you OK? Are you really OK? Are you sure you are OK cause you don't look OK. These are the words of the ER chief talking to the captain at the end of this movie. Please, don't get me wrong but I got to ask you the same thing. Are you OK or my myopia worsened? 8.1 grade for this flick? I just can't figure out what is more pathetic in this movie: Clumsy pirates who would probably fail to kidnap the cat from most of the neighbors or whole army of navy ships followed by navy seals that are chasing them? Let me get this straight, thousands of people got kidnapped every day all over the world, so what was so special about this one to waste two film hours? Because he was the captain of the big money ship so whole US navy went after him? And what really happened during this two hours? What about the plot (he is being kidnapped - that's not even the synopsis), thrill, engagement, maybe some twist? Tom Hanks is one of the most brilliant actors in Hollywood and there is some very good acting in this movie but what else makes this a high grade movie? Please, excuse me for being so ignorant.
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The film would have been more satisfying if it were more than its title
Likes_Ninjas9023 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In 2009 the cargo ship Maersk Alabama was carrying food aid towards the countries of Somalia and Uganda. Twenty crewmen were on board the ship, which was skippered by Captain Richard Phillips. The ship came under attack by four Somali pirates, who boarded the vessel and threatened some of the crew with assault weapons. The majority of the ship's crew hid in the engine room, while Phillips and two others faced the pirates. After encountering resistance from the remaining crew, the pirates took Phillips hostage into a lifeboat.

Paul Greengrass (United 93, Green Zone) and screenwriter Billy Ray adapt Phillips' book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, NAVY SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" and opt for a straight and conventional retelling of these events, rather than expanding and deepening any broader philosophical and sociopolitical goals. The film's subtext, characters and its thematic purpose feel secondary to the action. It asks what Greengrass looked to achieve with this footnote of much wider and global problems. The setup exposes minimal details about the personal lives of the characters. Tom Hanks plays Phillips, who is driving with his wife (Catherine Keener) to the airport for this trip. The city is orderly and functional and they discuss how their children will have to work hard to be the best at their jobs. This scene is contrasted with the arid landscape of Somalia, where young men are stood over by armed thugs and ordered to steal a boat. The juxtaposition of economic pressures provides the basis of a fascinating film that never eventuates. The film's production notes state the film is about the problems of globalisation, the haves and have nots. Yet sizeable issues, such as the way major vessels are taking Somali fishing spots, are reduced to singular, passing lines of dialogue. The film's overlong final standoff scenes would also have had more power if there were stronger contexts for the pirate characters, rather than simple archetypes.

One of the other major compromises Greengrass makes is his refusal to divorce the film from conventional Hollywood stylisations to build the tension. His techniques seem predictable. In the first attack scene, there are close-up shots of the radar pulse, showing the pirate speedboats moving in close to the vessel. The film also uses crosscutting to show the panic on the ship as the crew moves to the engine room, while the pirates struggle to throw their ladder over the side of the vessel. Despite one jump moment, I expected the film to be a lot tenser than it was. The dilution of the tension could be due to Greengrass' decision to shoot the film in his trademark jittery hand-held style. While the camera tightens on the faces of the actors, the erratic movements and constant wobbling are atrocious and serve no stylistic or thematic purpose. Some of the hide and seek battles between the crew and the pirates are still interesting, such as when they realise the pirates aren't wearing shoes and throw glass traps on the ground or send the lower decks into darkness. It is also a minor achievement that the film subdues Tom Hanks' recent self-consciousness, minimising his performance to be more controlled. In a mostly linear and contained story, without much personal backstory, Phillips isn't a hugely interesting character and Catherine Keener seems like wasteful casting, featuring in just a cameo appearance.

I preferred the way the recent and superior Danish film A Hijacking (Kapringen) didn't linger over the danger of men with guns the same way that Captain Phillips does. It's a smarter film that uses its crosscutting to forge a battle between professionalism and raw emotion. The tension is drawn from the way personalities boil over in the negotiation process. Captain Phillips is meant to be about the cultural clashes and competitiveness of today's economic climate and the way that motives clash under the wrong circumstances. While Greengrass doesn't entirely vilify the pirates, he still keeps them at arm's length like he did with the terrorists in United 93. This is in spite of an immersive, believable and intimidating turn by first time actor Barkhad Abdi as Muse the pirate leader. What is unusual about the anonymity is that in the film's climax he attempts to make the pirates seem tragic in the face of the Navy's extremism. These are young fools but still young fools branding machine guns and putting people in headlocks. Surely that deserved more time and examination than some of the endless shots of military hardware in the final quarter. The real Captain Phillips has said publicly that he never felt sorry for the pirates either. Additionally, a lawsuit from 2009 is still proceeding, with the crew suing the shipping company that owns the ship for ignoring warnings and putting the crew in danger. The film would have been more satisfying if it were more than its title.
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darn i hate shaky cameras
raviankam52518 October 2013
I went to the movie on release day. Primarily to watch Tom Hanks performance and to enjoy thriller. To my surprise it was one of those movies like Chronicle, United-93 etc. It is shot with shaky cam. There should be some suggestion or warning sort of thing to warn the audience that it is a queasy cam movie. I came out of theater with in 10 minutes. I didn't expect Tom Hanks movie to be a queasy cam movie. I felt bad because I couldn't watch Tom Hanks movie. And my money is wasted. There should be a genre for shaky cam movies like we have for comedy, thriller etc movies. I will wait to watch this on my laptop after blue ray print is out on market.
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