Review: Captain Phillips
This continues my on-going set of Oscar reviews, marking my third entry, Captain Phillips. The film is yet again, similarly to American Hustle, based off of true events. It is directed by Paul Greengrass (Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum) while also starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The direction by Greengrass is strong with a tremendous amount of realism and intensity pulsating throughout the entire film that builds and builds into the very last second. The first word that comes to people's head after seeing this movie is frequently, intense, which is the best way to describe it.
The film of course follows the titular character Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) who is in command of the MV Maersk Alabama, an unarmed container ship from Port of Salalah in Oman, with orders to sail through the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa around the Horn of Africa. The Captain is wary of pirate activity around the coast of Somalia thus he takes action by preparing strict security precautions on the vessel as well as carrying out practice drills. During one of these drills, the vessel is chased down by Somalian pirates in two skiffs. Under Phillips leadership and bluffing ability, they are able to elude the pirates. However, they do return with heavily armed reinforcements led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi). The pirates are able to board the vessel. Before they board, Philips cuts the engine power and tells a majority of his crew to hide in the engine room. In an attempt to quickly get Muse and his men off the ship he offers up all the money in the ship's safe, but Muse has much grander plans as he wants to ransom the ship and it's crew for millions of dollars.
Seeing how the stakes are raised from this point, Phillips decides that the best course of action is to simply get Muse and his men off the ship. For if he doesn't men on both sides will die. Thus he takes them to a lifeboat, yet the pirates end up forcing him with them as leverage. Aboard the lifeboat he is frequently the subject of the pirate's anger and frustration, leading him to suffer. Shortly after, the Navy gets a hold on the situation and begins to take charge in order to preserve Captain Phillips life. Phillips tries to bargain with the pirates as he feels that the Navy would rather sink the boat then let them win, whereas Muse disagrees and that is why he brought him along as their leverage.
The film is incredibly intense, especially in the final act all in large part to the superb direction by Greengrass but most of the credit here should really go to Tom Hanks. His ability to play the cool and calm Captain to the one that is suddenly being very heroic to a man that is just broken was very heartbreaking. It was amazing to watch and really stuck with me even months after having seen the movie, in the final act is where he really shined and showed why he is such a versatile actor, even in his elder years of acting. It is no shock that he is up for an Oscar for his performance and even Barkhad Abdi did a terrific job in the role of Muse. All in all, it is a very good thriller and very deserving of it's high praise.
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