SYNOPSIS: Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is — through director Paul Greengrass’s distinctive lens — simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
REVIEW: Here we go again, with yet another presentation of Hollywood’s never-ending parade of “fact-based movies.” Even with Tom Hanks starring in it, I was a tad bit concerned that with my knowing too much about the story from the news (the outcome, the details); the truth would get in the way and hinder my enjoying it. However, to the contrary, it is very much skillfully crafted by director Paul Greengrass (United 93, and the first two Bourne films), expertly drafted by writer William “Billy” Ray (The Hunger Games, 2012) and seamlessly executed with the likes of Tom Hanks, and newcomers Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, and Mahat M. Ali.
Worth highlighting is the casting of the four main pirates whom were all non-actors prior to this film. They bring distinct personalities to their roles, with the most cerebral being that of their leader, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). Abdi gives an outstanding supporting performance in this, his first role ever and with his compatriots they bring a certain level of authenticity to the screen, like no other could. And according to www.wikipedia.org, they, the film’s “Somali-pirate” characters “were chosen out of more than 700 participants in a casting call in Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.”
Also quite notable, (though it goes without saying) Tom Hanks here is simply excellent in his role, from start to finish. And when he delivers the big punch, towards the end of the film, one could possible regard it as arguably the best dramatic work of his career, to date.
With the rest of the Captain Phillips story, there isn’t much room to take a breather in Greengrass’ iteration of the events of the 2009 incident. There is extremely convincing panic among the crew, there is much discord among the pirates and their young leader, and the overall tension levels grow skyward as the four-person pirate skiff attempts to hook a boarding ladder to the big, unprotected monster of a commercial freightliner. The movie is simply gripping almost the entire ninety-four minute play time with a great cast, a pretty well known plot and a bit of that Military feel-good adrenaline which we all have come to expect from our beloved “Seal-Team 6’s” appearance.
By and large, this well executed movie is well worth the theater visit. My prediction is that it will probably get noticed for many accolades and it certainly deserves an easy four and a half stars out of five, for superb entertainment value.
By Movi-Man Stan
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