REVIEW: 'Captain Phillips' captures fear of real-life situation
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 21:10
“Captain Phillips” takes a real-life event and molds it into a fast-paced thriller that left me at the edge of my seat.
Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is an ordinary American suburban father and husband who is concerned for the safety of his family. To provide for his wife and children, he works as captain of a cargo ship. The movie starts with he and his wife driving to the airport so he can catch a flight to Africa, where he is to embark on a trip to deliver products and supplies.
It seems like it will be a typical trip, and he assures his wife nothing out of the ordinary will happen. When he comes aboard the ship, he finds out that a big chunk of their journey will be his ship driving through Somali seas with no one else around. With this knowledge, he decides to go forward with caution.
Meanwhile, a group of Somali men are out at sea looking for an opportunity to make money by seizing a cargo ship. When they see on the radar that Phillips’ ship is surrounded by nothing but ocean, they decide to take it.
Despite Phillips’s attempts to defend the ship, the Somali men climb aboard and take over. Eventually — hoping they will be able to get to Somalia on time to demand millions of dollars ransom for his return — the men overtake and capture Phillips.
This movie succeeds at taking an event that has been covered on the news and making it real for the audience. This could not have been done without the excellent direction of Paul Greengrass coupled with excellent performances by all actors involved.
Paul Greengrass does a great job using his knowledge of filmmaking to capture just how intense and scary it must have been to be taken hostage by Somali pirates. He keeps the pacing constant. The movie is a little more than two hours long, but it feels more like 90 minutes.
It is no surprise that Tom Hanks can act. The man has won two Oscars and has been nominated for three others. He has impressed me several times, and this movie is no exception. His ability to be a real human on screen, who expresses real emotions, makes it easy to empathize with his character. This is especially true at the end of the movie. He responds to something traumatizing, and it is easy to understand how his character feels.
Another incredible performance was done by Barkhad Abdi, who makes his on-screen debut in this film. He plays Muse, the leader of pirates who take over the ship. He does a great job being unpredictable and scary while also humanizing the character.
The only thing that was slightly disappointing is the poor development of the Captain Phillips character. We know he is a regular guy who cares deeply for his family. For the most part, this is all we need to know. The story itself makes us believe he is a good man without going much into his backstory.