Review: CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi are excellent in this tense but labored hostage drama.

After the huge disappointment of the Iraqi-set military thriller GREEN ZONE back in 2010 (read my review here), director Paul Greengrass is back in the top form with the fact-based hostage drama, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.

Adapted from Phillips' own memoir, the movie begins with Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) driving to work on an ordinary day with his wife, Andrea (Catherine Keener). After saying goodbye to his wife, he made his way to Maersk Alabama container ship where he and his crew are tasked to transport cargo across the Somali Basin. When a gang of Somali pirates attempts to hijack his ship for the first time, he manages to thwart them off with his ingenious method by utilizing radio conversation (you have to see it for yourself). But it doesn't take long before the Somali pirates, led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi), made a comeback and finally manages to board his ship. Naturally, things goes from bad to worse during the hostage situation.
Paul Greengrass' trademark shaky-cam style is put into efficient use here. Together with Barry Ackroyd's compelling cinematography and Christopher Rouse's airtight editing, the movie is often tense and suspenseful. Henry Jackman's pulse-pounding score, in the meantime, keeps the pacing energetic during the dramatic moments.

As Captain Richard Phillips, Tom Hanks delivers one of his best performances in his career. With his trademark "everyman" persona, he successfully portrays Captain Phillips as an ordinary person who is caught under forceful situations that viewers can relate to him. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi is surprisingly captivating as the leader of Somali pirates, Muse.
The edge-of-the-seat moment where Captain Richard Phillips and his crew tries to fend off the Somali pirates by using flare gun, pressurized water jets and other evasive action. And the poignant epilogue where Captain Richard Phillips becomes shell-shocked after the hostage incident is simply an Oscar bait for Tom Hanks.
When the action shifts focus inside the lifeboat, the pacing of the movie starts to feel cumbersome.

Several flaws aside, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS remains a captivating piece of entertainment that deserves a spot as one of the best movies of the year.

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