For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Realistic Films, here’s a review of Captain Phillips (2013) by SG of Rhyme and Reason
Thanks again to Prime Six for choosing this month’s interesting and unique genre.
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Diego of Lazy Sunday Movies. We will be reviewing our favorite Psychological thrillers.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Oct by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org Try to think out of the box! Great choice Diego!
Let’s see what SG thought of this movie:
Captain Phillips (2013)
They talk of risk in every field, for no job is without it,
But rarely do we fear the threat, although we do not doubt it.
Routines mundane increase our sense of safety, and it shows;
We’re not paid for, or so we think, worst-case scenarios.
Surprised then by inevitable danger or a crisis,
Our fortitude is tested as we hope that it suffices.
Though ready we may think ourselves and thus do we intend,
We never truly know until the test is at an end.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Director Paul Greengrass knows how to craft films that feel realistic. The shaky-cam action of the Bourne sequels and the heart-stopping tension of United 93 convey to the viewer an in-the-moment urgency, and the same holds true for Captain Phillips. Based on the true story of the boarding of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, the film is a masterwork of realistic tension, elevated even more by Tom Hanks in the title role.
From the start, the minutiae of modern shipping are faithfully depicted as Captain Richard Phillips drives to the airport, bids his wife farewell, and takes command of the Maersk Alabama. While he is concerned over the preparedness of the crew for a pirate attack, a quartet of Somali pirates break off from their warlord to hijack the distant ship. Everything about the incursion is grounded and believable, from the anti-pirate measures taken by the crew to the pirates’ half-competent demands when they finally seize the bridge and its captain. From there, the film morphs into a cat-and-mouse thriller between the hostage-holding pirates and the hidden crew, followed by a tense waiting game as the pirates attempt to use the only advantage left to them. It is during the waiting that the pacing verges on monotony, but the final scenes are a burst of stressful emotion (though the dramatic score sounds suspiciously like that of Inception).
Captain Phillips very much fits the best definition of a docudrama; what could have been the subject of a documentary, interesting but detached from the viewer, is given an added immediacy by the drama of watching a thoroughly convincing re-creation. Its realism comes not just from Greengrass’s fly-on-the-wall direction, but from the outstanding performances of its principal cast. Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse, the leader of the pirates, makes the most of his limited English dialogue, revealing ever more obvious indications of the desperation that makes men dangerous. Yet this is Tom Hanks’s film all the way; in Phillips’ cool head under pressure, his anxious negotiating, and his terror at what might happen next, Hanks delivers the utterly compelling acting that made him famous. His last five minutes in the film are a testament that his abilities have not waned with age and should have easily earned him an Oscar nomination, if not a win. (Sadly, neither happened, though Abdi received a Supporting Actor nomination.)
As he did with United 93, Greengrass has crafted a film that imparts to every viewer the tension and terror of a true story, the kind of story we read about in the news yet truly hits home in the movies. While piracy has been glamorized by Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Phillips reminds us of the precarious life-and-death reality of its modern manifestation.
Best line: (Muse, to Phillips) “Look at me. I’m the captain now.”
© 2016 S. G. Liput
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