Monday, October 14, 2013

Captain Phillips (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass directed true life thriller "Captain Phillips" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



The sign of a great “based on a true story” movie? It’s how quickly you rush to wikipedia to see what really happened.
“Captain Phillips” is based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips whose boat was hijacked by Somali pirates in April of 2009. The movie follows how the crew and Captain handled the situation as told in Phillips’ 2010 book, “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea” I assume they shortened the movie title to “Captain Phillips” so it would fit on the poster. It stars Tom Hanks as Captian, our Captain, as he struggles to lead in the worst situations possible. First off, this is an extremely powerful movie. But before we get to why, lets get the worst thing out of the way right at the start… actually… just like the movie does.
Yeah, the beginning of this movie is s.l.o.w. I’m all for setting up atmosphere and character back story, but Paul Greengrass took his sweet time getting to the action here and I think the movie stutters out of the gate because of it. But once it finds its rhythm and we are on that boat, watch out, cause Greengrass and Hanks will own you the rest of the way.
This movie is intense. I’ve always loved the way Greengrass handles action from the Bourne movies to United 93 (a movie that is very similar to this one in many ways). He has a way of letting the situation itself be the drama without needing his actors to ham it up or embellish it. In fact, he often uses non actors to give his movies incredible authenticity. This is especially true in the casting of the head of the Somali pirate crew, a non actor named Barkhad Abdi, who almost steals the show from Tom Hanks. Notice I said almost, because Hanks is once again incredible in this, playing the role with a very real gravitas that allows us to sink into the situation and experience it fully. I also loved how the movie doesn’t short shrift the backstories of our villains and their motives. We are never meant to believe what they are doing is justified, but you come away understanding their humanity more than in many similar stories. The best thing truly is that all of this adds up to a very genuine feeling adventure, with the danger palpable from the moment the pirates appear as a small green blip on the ships radar. It’s all of course made even more incredible (or actually credible) by the fact that this is a true story that actually happened, and yes, I checked wikipedia as soon as the credits started rolling just to make sure.
In the end “Captain Phillips” is another incredibly tense tour de force by director Paul Greengrass, using the amazing talents of Mr. Hanks and the previously unknown Abdi to bring us an action movie where you can feel the threat of every single moment. Even with a slow start the movie easily kicks it into gear with an A-
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