Published on October 22nd, 2013 | by Allan Brown5
Captain Phillips Review
Movie Review: Captain Phillips (2013)
Running Time: 134 mins
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Billy Ray (screenplay), Richard Phillips (Novel”A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea”)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman
Plot: The true story of the 2009 hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama cargo ship, at the hands of Somali Pirates.
With films like The Bourne Trilogy and United 93 under his belt, British film director Paul Greengrass has more than cemented his position as a filmmaker of note. He is a director that has shown he can find the accentual balance between character, drama, action and that unbearable nail biting tension that his films are so famed for.
In the Bourne series he brought his own unique style of quick-cut editing to the action genre. This is not only a technique that has since been adopted and hijacked by every man and his dog, but is now widely regarded as the industry norm (even though it is rarely executed with the same level of finesse or fluidity).
Captain Phillips is now the directors 7th feature film and having already worked with a wealth of talent, he has now opted to team up with none other than thee, acting leviathan and everybody’s favourite ‘everyman’, Mr Tom Hanks.
The plot centres on the shocking true story of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship, when in 2009 it was hijacked by 4 Somali pirates. The event lasted 5 days, during which Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by the insurgents on one of the ships life boats. The siege was televised live across the world, and on the fifth day, Captain Phillips was rescued, thanks to a successful Navy Seal team operation.
Greengrass having fine tuned all his filmmaking techniques on past projects exhibits his wealth of expertise here, in a riveting display of proficiency.
If there was one word that would best describe the movie Captain Phillips, it would be TENSE! Greengrass uses handheld cameras and tight angle shots to create a sense of angst and claustrophobia through the taut maze like corridors of the cargo ship. Opting for this shooting style over a static camera was a smart move as it allows the director freedom of movement and an immediacy with the characters he would not have easily have achieved otherwise. This too keeps the tension of the film at a relentless peak, never allowing it to settle down. This technique is skilfully executed, drawing you into the drama on screen, never allowing you, the audience to take a breath, much like the crew of the MV Maersk Alabama. We too are accentually on the ill fated cargo ship with them every step of the way.
Few films that are shot using handheld cameraz display the skill and proficiency on show here. Greengrass having fine tuned all his filmmaking techniques on past projects exhibits his wealth of expertise here, in a riveting display of proficiency.
Greengrass also does well to remain impartial, showing early on the plight in which forces these young fishermen into piracy. This balance is refreshing for a Hollywood film that often prefers to avoid complexities, instead painting things black and white, good and bad.
The cast too are all note perfect and none more so than Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Abdi (Somali Pirate Muse). This is a story about regular men being thrown into an unexpected life threatening situation and Tom Hanks is utterly mesmerizing in this role. He is the guy next door and his physical and emotional journey is truly fascinating and utterly convincing. That too can be said of first time actor Barkhad Abdi (Muse) who not only holds his own on screen but matches the talent of Tom Hanks throughout. When the two are on screen together, pit against one another, it is an intense and enthralling experience, a battle of wills and a trial of strength to say the very least.
Summary: From the word go, director Paul Greengrass has you in the palm of his hands. In what is perhaps, one of the most intense and thrilling movies of 2014.