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Captain Phillips is a film I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a while now. My expectations were high going in and thankfully they were met.
It tells the true story of cargo ship Maersk Alabama which was hijacked in 2009 by Somali pirates, the first hijacking of it’s kind in two hundred years.
Now for anybody expecting this to play like other “thrillers” of this kind, you may be surprised at the direction this film goes. I know I certainly was but in a good way.
Rather than sequence after sequence of people being chased around a boat the film instead decides to focus in on a small number of characters stuck in this horrible situation. This doesn’t hinder the film at all and in fact makes it more exciting, especially when it all kicks off in the final few moments.
I’m a big fan of Paul Greengrass. Not only do I consider the final two Bourne films (legacy does not count) as two of the best spy films ever but I loved what he did with United 93 also.
His documentarian style of film making does wonders for Captain Phillips and instantly forces you to get invested in the story and characters.
On top of that I’ve always found he has a great way of representing his “villains” as more than just that but as humans. He finds a way of representing the commonality of people in different situations around the world no matter how little it may be and for a film which deals with big global issues but on a much smaller scale, that understanding of people is a must.
Tom Hanks gives his best performance in years as Captain Phillips, a performance which in years to come will no doubt be remembered just as much as Forest Gump or Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan.
Just like the narrative, his performance just builds and builds until it just explodes in the final minutes. The Oscar buzz is well deserved and I look forward to his portrayal as Walt Disney later this year.
It must be said though that Barkhad Abdi who plays Muse, the leader of the Somali pirates, manages to hold his own against Hanks.
He plays his character with an empathy others would have been unable to achieve and the way he changes throughout the film is effortless. Considering this is his first acting role, like all the other actors portraying the pirates, his performance is even more impressive.
In the wrong hands Captain Phillips could have been dreadful. It’s the two main performances along with the superb direction of Paul Greengrass that make the film work as well as it does.
It’s a film which reminded me of a golden age of cinema where characters were well written and the most important thing was story.
Throughout the film, Muse says “no tricks” and there are none here. Just good old fashioned story telling which focuses on drama as opposed to spectacle. I thoroughly enjoyed Captain Phillips and if you’ve been as excited for it as I have, I’m sure you will too.