Captain Phillips: A Movie About Tom Hanks on a Boat!

Captain Phillips: A Movie About Tom Hanks on a Boat!
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Captain Phillips shouldn’t be as good as it is. It’s a big studio picture, based on an inspirational true story, starring one of the world’s hugest movie stars, directed by a guy most famous for his Bourne movies: Broken into pieces, Captain Phillips should be mass-market sap. But it’s the opposite of that: Lean and smart and intense, it’s a film that’s happy to kick you in the stomach to make a point.

The broad strokes: Tom Hanks plays Richard Phillips, who captained the shipping vessel Maersk Alabama in 2009 on what was supposed to be a routine trip around the Horn of Africa. It wasn’t routine: Somali pirates took the ship, then took Phillips as a hostage. And in Captain Phillips, it’s in the details where things get interesting and blurry. Not satisfied with telling the story from Phillips’s white, American perspective, Greengrass also follows the life and the motives of Muse (Barkhad Abdi, excellent), who hijacks the Alabama with a tiny crew and desperate determination.

Considering Captain Phillips is based on Phillips’s memoir, it’s hardly surprising he comes off well here—overwhelmed and outgunned, he’s still clever and determined to do whatever he can to save his crew. It’s to Hanks’s credit, though, that Phillips also comes across as vulnerable and scared: He’s a man handling a terrifying situation as best he can, and who’s also aware that his best won’t be good enough. Both Phillips and Muse are strong men, and ones standing in stark opposition to each other—but both are also subject to the guns pointed at them, to the brutally unpredictable effects of globalization and racism, to the twitchy reflexes of their lizard brains.

On the surface, Greengrass’s film tracks, with jarring intensity, the hijacking of the Alabama and the capture of Phillips. But more than anything, it’s about consequences. The hijacking is a consequence. Every action of Phillips and Muse has consequences. And when the time comes, Greengrass doesn’t cut away when Hollywood usually does: Captain Phillips doesn’t end until we’ve seen the consequences. recommended


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noodles' girl 1
You forgot to say when it opens in Seattle and where.
Posted by noodles' girl on October 10, 2013 at 9:41 AM · Report this
I want to see it!
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 10, 2013 at 1:35 PM · Report this
I must object to the author's dismissive swipe at Paul Greengrass. Yes, he did the second and third Bourne movies, but both of those movies are, in my opinion, two of the best action movies of the past decade or so. Then there is the matter of the efficient and terrifyingly effective United 93, also directed by Greengrass, and the completely underappreciated Bloody Sunday. Ok, so I didn't see Green Zone, but that doesn't hinder the fact that the man has serious skill behind the camera.
Posted by in_effigy on October 10, 2013 at 2:25 PM · Report this
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thelyamhound 5
What @3 said. Still, overall, good review! I'm of mixed mind about Hanks, but I may have to catch this one.
Posted by thelyamhound on October 11, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Another thumbs up to the third comment.

Paul Greengrass is far from a hack.

Now Michael Bay, Joel Schumacher, Roland Emmerich--disparage away at those awful directors, and I'll happily join in. Paul Greengrass does not belong with that crowd.
Posted by Functional Atheist on October 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM · Report this
A little late with this comment, but you should find what the Alabama crew has to say about Phillips, nothing good, also if you like this you should see the documentary 'Stolen Seas' and the Danish movie 'A Hijacking'
Posted by Merchant Seaman on October 19, 2013 at 1:06 PM · Report this

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