Movie Review: CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013)
It’s been a while since I’ve been reminded of the powerhouse that is Tom Hanks. However, after watching this legend back after a few years in the dramatic thriller based on a true story, I’m surprised how I ever forgot. Here is my Movie Review of CAPTAIN PHILIPS.
Blank Page Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Lifeboats
Hanks plays the titular role of Richard Philips, a Captain for a cargo vessel transporting cargo containers around the world. One of the things that really surprised me during the viewing of this film was how much some old world threats are still very much present today. When we think of ‘Pirates’ most of us may think of those horrible Disney movies, however they are a very real threat for the people working on Cargo Vessels transporting majority of the goods that we use in our everyday lives, to and from their countries of manufacturing. CAPTAIN PHILIPS illustrates this threat very well, as such an incident occurs during a transport run. The ship is boarded by Pirates, and the events that unfold, is what CAPTAIN PHILIPS is about.
Director Paul Greengrass is known for his grounded in reality films, that are never over the top or embellished and he does the same here. When first I heard about the premise of this film, I rolled my eyes at the thought of an aging Tom Hanks running around a ship, shirtless, guns blazing trying to free hostages and taking down pirates ala Steven Segal. I was never more glad to be wrong, as CAPTAIN PHILIPS is a very intense story about the real heroics of an everyday man, which was just as engaging and interesting to watch, if not more so. The first part of the film focuses on the Pirates’ presence on the ship and their demands of ransom, while the later half sees Captain Philips allowing himself to be taken hostage, in an effort to get the Pirates off of the ship and save the lives of his crew.
CAPTAIN PHILIPS further enhances the realism of the story, by showing us the lives of the would-be Pirates as well; one in particular, played by Barkhad Abdi. Coming from desolate conditions in Somali, Abdi’s Muse is seen to become the unlikely Pirate leader, who needs to secure the contents of the ship, in order to get a payout that will see his bosses happy. Despite being the ‘villain’ of the story, Muse is humanized as being a man compelled by his conditions and situation. Abdi’s chemistry with Hanks is amazing, as the two play off each other’s intensity with ease. The earlier scenes even show a nice parallel between the lives of the two characters. While Philips wakes and slowly packs and discusses the future of his children with his wife while going through rush hour traffic, Muse is rudely awakened from his hut by the prospect of recruiting desperate men to come with him to hijack foreign vessels in order to feed their families. It’s a great contrast between the two men.
The realism of CAPTAIN PHILIPS makes the story that much more intense to watch. As is the norm with Greengrass’ films, no aspect of the story is dumbed down for the audience. In an era of superhero films, the real world heroism performed during the movie are very underplayed, and shot as such. It’s a dramatically engaging movie that really makes the audience wonder how they would react in the shoes of Captain Philips themselves.