Friday, October 11, 2013

Tom Hanks Shoots to the Top of the List in Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips – Movie Review

By Anne Brodie Oct 11, 2013, 12:25 GMT
Tom Hanks puts in the best performance of his career in Captain Phillips and that’s saying something. This is his film, and it will break your heart. There have been significant male performances this year but Hanks mesmerizes.
Captain Robert Phillips (Hanks) leaves his comfortable, upper middle class home in bucolic Connecticut for the airport and a flight to Oman. His wife (Catherine Keener) drives, saying she’d be happier if he started not taking trips so far away. He’s scheduled to take a freighter from Somalia through the Arabian Sea to Mombasa, Kenya, an area that’s become increasingly dangerous due to violent pirate attacks. He agrees. Phillips would like to retire but not today.
Meanwhile young rootless men in an impoverished Somalian village are recruited to join pirate gangs. Most are teenagers who jump at the chance to make money. Unseen crime bosses take advantage of these desperate people whose waters have been overfished by foreign ships, and have no hope of jobs. The booty isn’t just freight; it’s lucrative kidnap business, holding Americans hostage.
Using rudimentary equipment and computer tracking devices, the pirates determine that Phillips’ freighter, the Maersk USS Alabama has separated from ships on the well-populated routes, presumably to avoid pirates. It’s moving slowly hauling water and food to Kenya. It will be a few hours’ trip for a crew of twenty. It’s a sitting duck.
Suddenly armed teenagers circle the boat in two skiffs. The Alabama shoots water cannon and creates giant wakes, sending one hightailing while the second remains. In a ridiculously easy and swift movement, a handful of pirates board the Alabama. Easy pickings. There are no weapons onboard.
The pirates disable the deck crew and hunt for the others. Phillips tries to calm the situation and negotiate but they aren’t turning back. Their hunger and desperation are too real. One good hijack could set their lives on a new course. They might move to America. No wonder five men are able to take down an entire crew.
This is a true story. It happened to Phillips and his crew in 2009. Somali pirates captured and terrorized their ship in an attack so perfect that it boggles the mind. 
Paul Greengrass knows how to craft a visceral, fast moving thriller and he does it despite the limitations of working on just two tiny sets on water. He moves things quickly and cleanly, locking in emotional authentically, heightening the escalating action.
Hanks put in a breathtaking performance. Captain Phillips is all business but when he’s taken hostage he begins a heartbreaking transformation. Without giving anything away, his final scenes will rip your heart out. This is a master doing his best work.
The actors playing the Somali pirates are incredible considering none has acted before. They are straightforward, confident with authenticity and depth. The leader Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is especially strong and his characters transformation is meaty too.
Despite their crime, Greengrass instills an element of compassion for the Somalis whose lives are ruined by outside forces. At a crucial juncture, Captain Phillips tells Muse to stop and leave because there are other lawful opportunities for him. Muse says “Maybe in America. Not here”.
Greengrass’ supple, complex and entertaining film is a no brainer, come Oscar time. Hanks is a certainty.
35 mm thriller
Written by Billy Ray, based on Richard Phillips’ book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea"
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Opens Oct 11
Runtime: 134 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English

No comments:

Post a Comment