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Captain Phillips - Film Review

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by Jacqx Melilli (subscribe)
Jacq of all Trades, Master of Writing https://www.jacqx.com/
Published October 14th 2013
Two rivals brought together by economic choices
Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Max Martini and Catherine Keener, true story, Somali pirates
Captain Phillips - Theatrical Poster

Captain Phillips is a riveting film based on a true story about the chaos caused by four Somali pirates who hijacked a US 17'000 tonne container ship, the Maersk Alabama, off the Somali coast in 2009. This is a story of two men from contrasting continents, where one continent values life and the other values money over life. Desperation speaks volumes and the rage against the western world is loud and clear in this film.
Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Max Martini and Catherine Keener, true story, Somali pirates
Captain Phillips - Somali pirates

This film spares us the Hollywood special effects and ridiculously unbelievable scenarios. It holds its own by capturing the events as it happened which eventuated with Captain Phillips, played exceptionally well by two-time Academy award winner, Tom Hanks, being held hostage after succeeding to get the pirates off his ship. You may be thinking, 'how exciting can a film be about a slow paced container ship?', but I can assure you this film is full speed ahead under the masterful direction of Paul Greengrass. This director knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The film opens with contrasting scenes as Phillips gets ready to go to work. He and his wife drive to the airport amongst heavy traffic that depicts the busy world they live in. They discuss the status of the rapidly changing world and how difficult it is to progress in the workforce compared to Phillips, who worked his way up the ranks to captain. They worry about how their children will fare developing a career where a large majority compete for a single position.

This scene is followed by a band of armed Somalis tearing towards a makeshift village surrounded by a harsh desert landscape. The villagers scramble for cover; women snatch their children and hide inside their modest dwellings. Barkhad Abdi, who plays Muse, the pirate leader who is woken from his sleep on the floor of his hut. He faces the armed men who are yelling commands, whilst pointing a gun to his head. They force him to pick a crew and get back to work to bring them money from their pirating enterprises.
Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Max Martini and Catherine Keener, true story, Somali pirates
Captain Phillips - Somali pirates board ship

This is a film about choices and the multi-layers that manipulate and affect our choices. It shows us that we are never really in control but always at the mercy of someone else's choices. Both Phillips and Muse are manipulated by the choices made by their bosses. Muse by brutal force and Phillips by passive manipulation to cut costs. It's also a film about the survival of the fittest and the desperation that forces people to do the most extreme acts. Why? As Muse puts it, 'it's just business.' That appears to have become the world's motto.

Tom Hanks did not disappoint with his masterful portrayal of the veteran sea captain. Fine performances were also delivered by novice Barkhad Abdi as Muse and the Somali actors whose aggression is intimidating, even from the comfort of the cinema seat. The startled look of the pirate driving the lift raft was precious. He looked as though he was sitting on a grenade in one scene.

The film, although not 100% accurate, comes very close. Phillips was actually held hostage in the lifeboat for 5 days which led to the series of events shown but not explained in the film. An excruciatingly tense rescue involving navy SEAL snipers is beautifully executed with a gripping soundtrack that escalates the tension.
Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Max Martini and Catherine Keener, true story, Somali pirates
Captain Phillips - Somali pirates attack

Captain Phillips is so well directed that the minutes fly by as the tension builds. There are moments where the tension eases with a dash of awry humour. Then the grand finale releases the stretched out tension with a flow of tears as Tom Hanks delivers an impressive performance that expresses what we were all feeling for him throughout the torture he experienced at the hands of these desperate pirates. There is no doubt this film will become a treasured classic as it appeared to appeal to a wide audience. A definite must see.
Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Max Martini and Catherine Keener, true story, Somali pirates
Captain Phillips Australian premiere


Jacq's rating: 9.5 out of 10

Director: Paul Greengrass
Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd
Screenplay: Billy Ray (based on the book by Captain Richard Phillips)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Max Martini and Catherine Keener.
Duration: 134 mins
Genre: Biography, drama, crime
Classification: M
Language: English
Country: USA


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Why? Experience a brilliant film based on a true story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Where: At local cinemas
Your Comment
There has been some negative buzz directed towards Captain Phillips (both the real-life person, and the aforementioned film). An anonymous member of the crew seems to think the film has put Captain Phillips in too much of a heroic light, to the extent that he has filed a lawsuit:http://nypost.com/2013/10/13/crew-members-deny-captain-phillips-heroism/.

Now I have no idea how credible or reasonable the lawsuit is, but I have been informed by a friend who has seen the film that the above article does misrepresent the film in some respects.

An interesting counter-argument was made in response to the lawsuit by Roger Friedman:http://www.showbiz411.com/2013/10/13/oscars-the-negative-campaigning-starts-early-with-gravity-and-captain-phillips?utm_source=feedly.

Friedman backs his claims with the first hand knowledge that he "shared a cab with Shane Murphy (a member of the crew who is depicted in the film) on the night of the films' premiere at the New York Film Festival, and has quoted him as saying: "“The movie’s very good. It’s funny to see five days compressed into two hours. But mostly, they’ve got it.”
by bench (score: 0|3) 1833 days ago
There has been some negative buzz directed towards Captain Phillips (both the real-life person, and the aforementioned film). An anonymous member of the crew seems to think the film has put Captain Phillips in too much of a heroic light, to the extent that he has filed a lawsuit:http://nypost.com/2013/10/13/crew-members-deny-captain-phillips-heroism/.

Now I have no idea how credible or reasonable the lawsuit is, but I have been informed by a friend who has seen the film that the above article does misrepresent the film in some respects.

An interesting counter-argument was made in response to the lawsuit by Roger Friedman:http://www.showbiz411.com/2013/10/13/oscars-the-negative-campaigning-starts-early-with-gravity-and-captain-phillips?utm_source=feedly.

Friedman backs his claims with the first hand knowledge that he "shared a cab with Shane Murphy (a member of the crew who is depicted in the film) on the night of the films' premiere at the New York Film Festival, and has quoted him as saying: "“The movie’s very good. It’s funny to see five days compressed into two hours. But mostly, they’ve got it.”
by bench (score: 0|3) 1833 days ago
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