Captain Phillips is a 2013 American drama thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass, other-wise known for directed The Bourne Supremacy and the Bourne Ultimatum. The film stars Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The latter making his acting debut, and the first being obviously well-established.
The film is inspired by the true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, an incident where merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillis is taken hostage by pirates of the Indian Ocean.
Nominated for various Academy Awards, Captain Phillips was a large critical success, and also did particularly well at the box-office. Phillips had a budget of fifty-five million, but walked away with nearly two-hundred and twenty.
I have been watching a lot of bad films lately. Films like Vampire Academy, Endless Love, so on, and so fourth, and so I needed for Captain Phillips to wash the taste out of my mouth. I knew that it would succeed in that regard, but perhaps surprisingly, I wasn’t really excited for Captain Phillips. It looked like a film that would be critically adored but could have easily been excruciatingly dull and tedious. Nonetheless, I knew the praise and the mere amount of potential that it had was enough to warrant a viewing.
As you likely already expected and as already basically explained, the follows Richard Phillips, the Captain of an unarmed container ship as it is infiltrated by four heavily armed pirates. The film shows various of the procedural methods used for the crew to defend themselves, and creates a very realistic and intense vibe. A lot of biopics spend too much time with explanation, or aren’t proficient in explaining whilst simultaneously engaging the viewer, but this film absolutely makes it feel like crucial elements to enhancing the storyline.
I have read a lot of complaints that some have had about the authenticity of this film. Even Tom Hanks said in an interview that the film admittedly omitted various little tidbits from the book. And I have to say that I never really cared about the authenticity, I’m afraid. All the film has to do in-order to succeed is come off as realistic and intense. I don’t care very much to dissect it past that.
A lot of what makes Captain Phillips work is how the directing and pacing is done. I was really, really expecting to be bored during at least one or two parts in the film. Fortunately, that didn’t actually happen and I was engaged throughout the film to its entirety.
What really helps this film succeed and exceed standards is the acting. Tom Hanks is damn-near mesmerizing in his performances, managing to channel a lot of different emotions. He comes off as afraid, smart, deceptive, and even traumatized throughout, and he does it all in a believable way. The scenes where he is negotiating or flat-out misleading the pirates are some of the most telling scenes in the film. Meanwhile, he wasn’t the only star of this film, Barkhad Abdi does so well at achieving the necessary intensity to make this film work.
Abdi, likewise, comes off as very realistic and natural in his performance, there isn’t a whole lot of speeches with him, but his tone and demeanor take him the distance.
The film depicts powerlessness and a Captain that seems like he is just trying to weather the storms. And it does so while at the same time remembering that it’s meant to be entertaining.
In conclusion, Captain Phillips is a very good film. Strong storytelling expelled by the subject-matter, accurate or not, while strong and gripping performances really set it over-the-top. I went into it expecting a good, albeit dull film, and instead had something that was highly entertaining and worth the watch.
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