Second Opinion | Captain Phillips


I was pumped when the trailer for Captain Phillips was released. I immediately added it to my most anticipated films of the fall/winter season. With Tom Hanks on board (get it) and Paul Greengrass helming the ship (alright that’s enough) I was all-aboard this one (sorry!), I was not let-down, but it did not exceed my expectations.

Greengrass has a solid track-record, or filmography added to his name.  I think that Bourne Ultimatum is one of the best action thrillers of the past ten years. He also directed another real-life event United 93 based on the plane that missed its target during the attack on 9/11. Now we have Captain Phillips which is another solid film to add to that shining filmography.

Richard Phillips was (and still is) a Captain for a cargo ships in this film, it happens to be Maersk Alabama, ready to set-sail across the ocean with relief supplies to be delivered to Mombassa, Somalia, and even Kenya. Lone-behold Maersk Alabama is hijacked by Somalia pirates, or “fisherman.” It is up to Phillips to be wise for his crew. He is then taken held captive by these pirates inside a small lifeboat. Now it is up to the military to bring Phillips home safely before letting him be taken to Somalia.

As I mentioned, Richard Phillips is a real person, and is portrayed excellently by Tom Hanks. Now I would never spoil anything about a movie but since this really happened, I would like to clear it up that Richard Phillips did indeed survive the situation. The reason why this is not really a spoiler is first, he wrote a book based on the event and the film followed the story through the book. Second, they will not be making a movie about a person if the person died historical figures aside. If they did, they would have to change many of the actual events, and change the person’s name for the film. They would be unable to obtain the rights to film such a project with the person being dead. It could also possibly show disrespect without obtaining rights anyway.  The parts that I will not mention are those leading up to his rescue, and may I say, they are rather extraordinary.

Captain Phillips is a truly good film from start to finish but unfortunately the film only has a few great scenes, those great scenes occurring towards the end which is why this film warrants such a high recommendation from me. I also need to devote a portion of this review to Tom Hanks because he has been giving some rather underwhelming performances the past several years (Cloud Atlas aside) and I have to say that Captain Phillips is probably his best performance in a decade. Tom Hanks is one of the acting greats, he has won two Oscars, and while I doubt he will achieve his third this year, but he will get his sixth nomination. I am not one to cry at the end of films, but I certainly feel emotions, and am able to tell when something will make somebody tear-up without manipulating them, and Captain Phillips is darn-near heartbreaking, all due to Hanks brilliant performance under Greengrass’s tight direction. Another thing worth mentioning is the excellent first-timers here, those of which play the Somali pirates. Although Catherine Keener is a credit in the film, but she has no more than a paragraph worth of dialogue, could they have not just got somebody simpler to play Richard Phillips wife. This is not me critiquing Catherine Keener’s performance, I have seen her great in many things, and she serves the film well, but I am not sure why she was there specifically.

Now for my actual issues with the film, first being the pacing. When I see a two hour fifteen minute film, I think about “how long was I sitting there and how long it felt like I was sitting?” This is a nice contrast that I do because it shows how invested and how entertaining it was. In this case, it felt like I had watched a film of that length. I was hoping that it would have felt a bit quicker, such as film like Argo. Also another complaint is not really the shaky-cam but the cinematography. Now the film has no doubt some wonderful wide air shots, but sometimes the camera was a bit to close on somebody’s face. I do not care to stare at somebody’s pores.

All in all I thought that Captain Phillips receives a strong recommendation from me, more so than other films out, such as Gravity. I loved that film, but that is for people looking to experience the next big “event.” Captain Phillips while the box office numbers will appear lower, I think that it will strike with an older audience.


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Bottom Line

Captain Phillips is never a bad film, but only occasionally a great one. It is the final act that warrants this film a strong recommendation.

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