Sunday, December 08, 2013

Captain Phillips

Year: 2013
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi

Plot: Based on the true story of the hijacking of the vessel MV Maersk Alabama and its captain, Richard Phillips by Somali pirates in 2009.

Review: Most people have heard of the Somali pirates hijacking ships around the African seas, and here we have a true account of one such story. In the hands of Paul Greengrass, the result is an edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Tom Hanks stars as the titular character, who is depicted as a firm man, a man who is a stickler for procedures and not always the most likable of people, but generally fair. When a boat carrying four armed Somalians approach his ship, Captain Phillips does what he can to protect himself and his crew from danger.

Greengrass is in excellent form here, pacing the film well and making every scene with the pirates count. Heck, even the introductory scenes involving Phillips and his crew were well handled, giving us a general idea of what they're like before trouble starts. Greengrass and scriptwriter Billy ray also take the time to give a minor backstory on the Somalian pirate leader Muse, thereby making them more than just typical villains.

Hanks is of course awesome in his performance as Captain Phillips, giving him an everyman vibe, but at the same time, a resourceful and capable leader. As things get worse in the film's third act, Hanks accordingly steps us his game and gives a bravura performance that is as real as it gets. Barkhad Abdi also deserves credit as head pirate Muse, who simultaneously earns the audience's fear and sympathy. Muse is basically a man who does what he does under orders from a clan boss, even so he isn't a straight up errand boy. He is in a complicated situation like Phillips, and this makes him a worthy adversary and someone the audience can relate to at the same time. Kudos also to Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahat M. Ali for playing the other three pirates well. Together the four of them are truly intimidating on screen.

If there are any complaints I have here, it'd be the editing. There were some scenes that could have been shortened as they took too long without any real purpose.

Captain Phillips is a well made film on a whole. Recommended. (4/5) 

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