Captain Phillips is the true story of a merchant ship carrying cargo from Oman to Mombasa. Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is in charge of the vessel and has the tough task of taking the ship past pirates in the Gulf of Aden, also known as the Pirate Alley! He has taken all precautions necessary but unfortunately they get attacked by armed pirates, who take the ship hostage. Will Hanks be able to save his crew and himself or will the Somalians manage to get the ransom and run away? That is what the movie is all about.
When you have a director like Paul Greengrass (of Bourne Supremacy fame), who specializes in real-life docu dramas, you know you are in good hands. Captain Phillips is a no-nonsense thriller which does not over dramatize anything. It puts you straight into the cargo ship where all the action lies. But Greengrass takes his time. He doesn't hurry up the proceedings. He lets the actors breath. There is a palpable tension almost throughout and you know things could go wrong any instant. The screenplay by Billy Ray is crisp and Greengrass excels in his signature hand-held style of storytelling. Academy award winning editor Christopher Rouse simply keeps you riveted with the sharp edits and does complete justice to the actors.
While the acting overall is top notch, the 2 central leads excel. Barkhad Abdi, as the pirate leader, is both determined and intelligent. You know he doesn't enjoy being a pirate, but he does it with ruthlessness because he has to fend for his family. You empathise with him, but you know what he is doing is wrong. And then there is Tom Hanks, who plays the role almost pitch perfect! The film (after a long long time) provides a great vehicle to his supreme talent, and he delivers big time. Be it his firm but loving attitude towards his crew or his hopeful struggle against the pirates, Hanks aces it.
The Popcorn worthiness:
While the movie lives up to the hype, the drama seems to be a little stretched in the middle. There are repetitive scenes which could have easily been chopped off and the length of the film could have been reduced by 10-15 minutes to make it more air tight. But I guess, Paul wanted you to really feel both Hanks and the pirates' plight. It gives you a raw account of how real battles are fought against pirates in international waters and how potential diplomatic nightmares are addressed. While this is no-doubt a good film, you have to watch "Bloody Sunday" to see Greengrass at his best! Everything aside, the captain of the this ship - Hanks, is the biggest draw and you could watch the film for his performance alone. Watch him breakdown in the final scene, it will give you goosebumps. Hank you so much Tom!
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Picture credit - collider.com