Captain Philips – A Review

Paul Greengrass gets behind the shaky camera this time around to direct Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips based off a true story about a US merchant navy ship that was hijacked by Somalian pirates.

Set in the choppy international waters off the west coast of Africa Captain Phillips brings to screen the real life hazards that the crew of the ships sailing those waters go through on a daily basis. It also tries to put a human face on the pirates giving them a back story and specifying the motive behind the hijackings.

Tom Hanks is in top form as the titular character Captain Philips, maintaining his cool through the hijacking and making sure that his crew remains safe while he tries to get the pirates off the ship. The calm that Hanks maintains throughout the entirety of the movie is only heightened by the much talked about climax scene. However I have a minor gripe and that isn’t with Hanks so much as it is with screen writer Billy Ray and Director Greengrass. The overly cautious opening scenes with Hanks build up the feeling of siege so much that the eventual hijacking kind of feels like an anticlimax, personally I would have preferred for him to be much more good natured and jovial yet methodical till the siege happens and then switch gears to captain cool. Barkhad Abdi who plays Muse is generating a lot of buzz for a supporting actor nom and while he does well to play the Somalian pirate I am not quite sure all of the praise is correctly placed.

Greengrass’s direction has almost always bothered me with his reliance on the shaky camera, here too Greengrass relies on shaky camera when shooting scenes on the high sea but the effect is less nauseous than it was on the bourne movies but still it takes a few minutes to find your sea legs.  Barry Ackroyd behind the camera focuses more on the close up than on the wide panoramic views of the vast ocean and the effect isn’t entirely unpleasant , focusing on the faces of Hanks and the pirates Ackroyd and Greengrass make the encounter personal and way too close for comfort.

Another talking point about the movie is the acting of the real life naval hospital corpswoman Danielle Albert who plays the doctor that tends to Hanks’ captain Phillips towards the end of the movie and while she is wonderfully controlled I don’t understand all the fuss that is being made about her minute-long role with talks of a potential Oscar nomination for support role.

Henry Jackman’s background score while effective is a little too generic  to leave any lasting impression.

Greengrass has used real life marines and navy seals in the second half of the movie and it does lend a authentic feel to the movie.

The movie feels a tad long with some scenes running a bit overlong and the tension and intensity does get a little taxing on you. But this is not a movie to be missed. Tom Hanks is in top form and it is a story that is thrilling and gripping while at the same time very real.

Watch this movie for the return to top form for Hanks and one of the 2 possible nominations that Hanks will walk away with this year in the leading actor category.

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