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Captain Phillips
Year:
2013
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Biography
IMDB rating:
7.9
Director:
Paul Greengrass
Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips
Faysal Ahmed as Najee
Mahat M. Ali as Elmi
Mohamed Ali as Asad
Barkhad Abdi as Muse
Michael Chernus as Shane Murphy
David Warshofsky as Mike Perry
Yul Vazquez as Captain Frank Castellano
Chris Mulkey as John Cronan
Corey Johnson as Ken Quinn
Catherine Keener as Andrea Phillips
Max Martini as SEAL Commander
Storyline: Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is - through director Paul Greengrass's distinctive lens - simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips' unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
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Reviews
Fine docu-drama but not much more
I'm a big fan of Paul Greengrass, but it seems that in Captain Phillips he was trying too hard not to take sides, having perhaps taken too much criticism for the partisanship of his brilliant films Bloody Sunday and Green Zone. It's not that I felt this new film desperately needed to make a political statement. It's just that it fails to make any statement at all. Or even to provide basic context for the events it depicts.

The production is certainly impeccable. The shipboard settings, the procedures, and Tom Hanks' character are so totally believable that it's easy to forget you're not watching a documentary. (*Mild spoilers*...) Hanks' initial efforts to safeguard his crew, and to calm the pirates, are clever and engrossing. But at some point, that impetus evaporates, and we're left with a very realistic, very tense situation in which the lead character no longer plays any part other than that of helpless victim. Things unwind like clockwork, with no particular twists or surprises. That may be how it happened, but it's not how to make a great action film.

I did appreciate Greengrass' effort to humanize the pirates. (If there's an Oscar going for this film, it belongs to Barkhad Abdi, for his nuanced performance as the pirate leader.) But the film stops short of any real exploration of the social or political pressures behind the incident it depicts. It fails to comment on the astounding spectacle of multiple billion-dollar navy ships and SEAL teams doing battle with four guys in a dinghy. It doesn't even address the obvious question of why a valuable merchant ship, registered in the most gun-happy country on Earth, and traveling through known pirate waters, doesn't have a weapons locker, or a security guard, or a single personal sidearm.

Tom Hanks is excellent as always, but this is not an Oscar-worthy *role*. Hanks plays on just two notes: first restrained and competent, then shifting quite abruptly to broken and terrified. This seems very realistic, and it's perfectly played. But it's just not that interesting. The script does little to analyze Phillips' eventual breakdown; it merely notes it as one more part of the scenario.

Bottom line, I enjoyed watching Captain Phillips, and I greatly admired the technique of both Greengrass and Hanks. But I didn't find the film particularly insightful, memorable or - considering the lack of character development or plot - exciting. It stands up well enough as a simple document of an actual event, but fails to tell me why that event might have been important enough to merit a big-budget movie treatment.
2014-02-10
The poor ones on the bad side, again
It's kinda racist movie. When you talk about people making bad thing you should ask yourself about reasons. Why a gang of human beings choose piracy against any other option? In the background exists a very deep social problem where everyone, European, American, and even us are guilty. If you told just the consequences, like they made here, then you have created another American superheroes movie and have told just a half of the human story. Just a half of the misery. Taking the bad side from the consequences of the poor policies against the humanity who lives in Africa, the land we all were coming from.
2017-11-20
a mainstream production from the Hollywood assembly line
A Hollywood-produced, politically correct, big studio vehicle, helmed by a world-class action artisan Paul Greengrass, stars the most revered actor of his generation, Tom Hanks as the titular captain, whose screen image is a paragon of an orthodox ordinary Joe alike American hero, in this seafaring hijack inspired by a true event in 2009 at Somali waters. It is a retaliation of the vicious circle from the poverty-stricken to the hegemony which sardonically offers them the alms and simultaneously capitalizes on their natural resources and weaponry merchandising, so it is not easy to hold a phlegmatic perspective to watch the man-made terror without deploring the sad truth how things have ended up like this, for sure we should inveigh against the piracy felony, all the same we should also see through the phenomena and ferret out the nitty-gritty which induces the atrocious tragedies. We have both parties to blame and need a soul-searching examination on our own conscience.

Greengrass adopts an engaging procedure to re-enact the white-knuckle happening of how the ship is seized by four Somali pirates (leading by a scrawny Muse, played by the first-time actor, now Oscar-nominee Abdi), parallels the narrative from both sides, playing mind games and a hide-and-seek inside the vessel, this is the first half, culminated with the pirates take captain Phillips as the hostage in a lifeboat, floating back the Somali. Apparently from the hindsight, it is a preventable incident, considering it is a US cargo ship, no one on board is equipped with any firearms at all? From a gun frenzy country where campus shooting is rampant, it is quite implausible, but sometimes the truth is as simple as that, the pirates' boarding process is rough and ready, clearly the affluent corporate which owns the ship skimps on its defense system, although they are fully aware of the potential peril could happen anytime. Otherwise, there would be no big deal to defeat four sea marauders (one is barely a child) even they're equipped with AK-18.

Anyway, the second half, Captain Phillips is held captive within a lifeboat with the pirates on the billowy sea, since then, the film heavily hinges on Hank's performance to emanate the brewing desperation during the so-called "negotiation" between US rescue team (SEAL, frogmen are all standby) and the cornered pirates four. It is a precious platform to let Hanks finally have something extraordinary to offer, he completes it with consummate precision and sublimates the predictable fallout of the false hope. Unfortunately due to a crammed year with sterling candidates, Hanks is left out of the nomination list, quite an upsetting snub, but he plays a real person who lacks for a distinctive character except he is under an extreme situation, not showy enough is the detrimental disadvantage. Abdi is the MVP among the pirates four, not as irritable and impatient as the hackneyed short-fuse Najee (Ahmed), he is a human being with flesh and blood, he is the one captain Phillips can relate to under such circumstances, all diversities aside, basically they both work for their respective bosses and want to finish their jobs with minimal casualties. His bold final move can be interpreted as a smart judgment call, his American dream ironically fulfills in a different way, at least he can be plumb free of his ill-destined fate.

Nominated for 6 Oscars including BEST PICTURE (both Hanks and Greengrass are brutally snubbed here), CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is at best an unbiased recount of a man's individual struggle during a hanging-by-a-thread ride, and at worst, it is an unimaginative hostage story with jejune perpetrators wield weapons and demand unrealistic ransom, no one can beat the principled USS army, do you get the message?
2014-01-29
It was supposed to be easy. I take ship... ransom... nobody get hurt.
They wanted $10 million ransom for Captain Phillips. I would imagine that the US Navy probably spent $10 million dollars putting all those ships ans Seals in the water to rescue him. Unfortunately, that leaves nothing for the pirates.

Did they really think that the US was going to let them win? It's inconceivable to us, but they were just fishermen. They had just as much chance as the teabaggers. Terrorists never win in the end. They can't see the big picture.

The efforts of Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips was a compelling story from the beginning. He was head and shoulders above his enemy. He saved his ship and all his people. This was the real story. Everything else was just a matter of time.

When our military is allowed to do their jobs, they are a formidable force. We can sleep well tonight.
2014-01-30
Average
Paul Greengrass, who did a great job with "United 93 (2006)", once again gives us a movie based on real events. This time it's about Somali pirates and a cargo ship.

Good production, but there's nothing really new or exceptionally interesting about the movie. It's just OK - and like most movies nowadays, it's over 2 hours and a bit too long.

Good score by Henry Jackman is the main reason for keeping the movie intense and interesting for so long.

Too much shaky cam (annoying especially in the beginning of the movie).

The cast is good. Tom Hanks gives an excellent performance during the last 5 min of the movie - which is worth the entire movie, I guess - but it doesn't justify a Golden Globes nomination.
2015-10-10
More Shallow Than Expected
Let me preface this by saying that I am normally a fan of biopics, and even more a fan of Tom Hanks, so this movie was intriguing, especially because of the generally good reviews it has gotten.

However, I found this film to be rather flat, to be put quite simply. The dialogue at times felt mechanical, and as the story went on I realized that I didn't feel any substantial connection to the characters, as little effort is given to build any- including Captain Phillips, whose backstory was presented altogether poorly. Instead, the film jumped fairly quickly into the action, which would be fine, except that with the length of the movie, it drags on towards the end without giving the viewer any real reason to keep his or her interest. At the conclusion, I felt, meh. Not much of anything, just that it was over.

As I usually do, afterwards I read into the backstory of the film, to find some reasoning as to explain why I thought it could have been better developed. I learned that not only is the true Captain Phillips misrepresented in the movie as a hero, but that there is a much more interesting dynamic when it comes to the backstory of the Somalian pirates. In the movie we are only given a few confusing scenes (without subtitles, so fairly vague) where the pirates leave their village to be picked for the expedition, and throughout the story they are not really made out to be endearing, nor unlikable either. The viewer is left unsure what to think about their fate.

In real life, the plight of Somalians is that of foreign ships illegally taking advantage of their shipping lanes and fish, which dissipated their fish populations. As they have relied on fishing as nearly their only means for living, this led many to self-regulate the waters as their seemingly only other option, escalating into piracy. Whether this is morally justifiable or not, I can't say, but I dislike that this film fed the audience a definitive answer without even providing the full context. If the movie had developed this aspect more fully, I feel that it would have made for a much more compelling tale, as it would have done better to connect the audience to the Somalians rather than acting as just another Hollywood film with the undertone that American lives are more important than all others.

I would also have preferred a better developed Captain Phillips character. Obviously after reading articles, I would have liked to have him portrayed truer to his questionable real-life self, but it's the media business so I can settle for their idealized version; but only if they develop a reason to like him, which I still wasn't given. I just felt myself waiting for the movie to give me a reason to cheer for him, but like the entire role of characters, was given an altogether two dimensional character instead.

The story in its full context is incredibly interesting, but the movie decided to tell the basic press clippings version, and for that I am left disappointed.
2016-11-23
Intense - features a standout performance by Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks is terrific in the title role, playing the real life captain of the Maersk Alabama, a cargo ship that was hijacked off the eastern coast of Africa by Somali pirates in April, 2009. Although the filmmakers changed some elements of the actual story to make Phillips appear more heroic - and less to blame for the incident - there is no doubt that he suffered greatly, physically and psychologically, during the ordeal. For days, Captain Phillips was the sole hostage of four volatile Somalis in an enclosed lifeboat; they hoped to receive millions of dollars in an exchange.

Director Paul Greengrass and editor Christopher Rouse (who received an Oscar nomination) did an excellent job of capturing the suffocating heat and cramped spaces of the lifeboat, while Hanks portrays a wide range of emotions, mostly without words. The actor's most powerful scene is the film's last, as Hanks perfectly affects a man in shock, mentally reliving the horror of his captivity while involuntarily sobbing in relief to be freed from it all.

Barkhad Abdi plays Muse, who dubbed Phillips "Irish", in an Academy Award nominated Best Supporting Actor performance. Muse struggled to keep his own crewmates under control while resisting the pressure exerted by the United States Navy. The situation was eventually resolved by SEAL Team 6 snipers, whose skills enabled them to simultaneously 'execute' the three remaining hijackers after Muse had been tricked into boarding the U.S.S. Bainbridge (a destroyer) for negotiations.

The movie was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, as was its Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Adapted Screenplay writer Billy Ray.
2017-11-07
Near the top of the Hanks ladder
Based on true events, Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips is the rarest of thrillers, the kind that relies on neither distracting special effects nor circumspect character development. Driven by a powerful, soul-baring performance by the inimitable Tom Hanks, the movie never lags, never oversells the plight of its characters, never reduces anyone or anything to mere caricature.

Hanks is the titular captain of the United States container ship MV Maersk Alabama, cruising along the coast of Somalia with a full load and heading toward the horn of Africa. Two skiffloads of armed Somalis close in, ready to board the vessel. They're pirates, working for a warlord in their impoverished country, and they smell opportunity.

If this were a standard action flick, we might see the heroism of Phillips and his motley crew as they fight the evil pirates and save the world. It's not so here. There are nuances afoot; for once, we get the perspective of the lead pirate (Barkhad Abdi) without falling into the easy trap of feeling empathy toward him.

The pirates board the giant ship, clearly pleased with their find. Muse (Abdi) quickly proves himself to be a strong, humanistic leader; he's single minded (where's the crew? where's the goods?) but not sinister. His gang includes a strong man with a quick temper and Muse's own relative, who'd begged to come along on the mission - a mission that, when successful, would go a long way to improving their lives.

The movie is told in two distinct halves: the time spent by the pirates on the Maersk as they search in vain for treasure and crew, and the time spent in the ship's lifeboat as they make their way to Somalia. The villains are conflicted and desperate. And armed. But they're quickly immersed in an impossible situation.

This is one of the toughest, most naked performances of Hanks' stellar career. It's sometimes painful and heart wrenching to watch. He's an Everyman, per usual, but he's not also a savior or a hero. He doesn't suddenly develop super strength and overpower the bad guys. He's just a guy in charge of a boat and its passengers.

Matching him wit for wit while frantically trying to keep his own wits about him is Abdi as the skinny, intelligent Muse, seemingly a veteran of high piracy (though not against huge container ships). Abdi is a wonder to watch; unpredictable and cunning but a little greedy and rapidly running out of viable options. Truly a talent to look out for, Abdi nails this role.

The ending is predictable only in the most general sense. Bill Ray's screenplay does not duck some plausible consequences to the actions of each main player and leaves us with a scene that is as emotionally overpowering as anything in Hanks' previous Philadelphia.

It seems that every time Tom Hanks makes a good movie, people begin to label it as "Oscar bait," as if the movie were created just as a vehicle to earn an award. Captain Phillips delivers a tight, action-packed story fraught with none of the usual missteps of the genre, and if it is indeed rewarded with the highest of honors, it will be well deserved.
2013-10-10
The Definition of Over-dramatization
4.5 of 10. From the beginning car conversation to the end, this feels like an over-dramatization made worse and more artificial with voice overs. To make it worse, it's far too long for this kind of story.

What should be a heroic tragedy is little more than a military-industrial, flag-waving, propaganda film. And I'm fairly certain the military doesn't read international people arrested for crimes their rights as an American citizen. So much fake stuff like this takes what should also feel more like a documentary and makes it into what only deserves showing on TV during Memorial, Independence, or Veterans Day weekend.
2013-12-01
Paul Greengrass directs another tension driven film bringing Tom Hanks to the forefront...
Hours after the World Premiere of Paul Greengrass' newest psychological thriller "Captain Phillips," my heart is still palpating at a hundred beats per minute. Starring the magnificent Tom Hanks in his finest performance since "Cast Away," this edge-of-your-seat thrill ride lands as one of the best films of the New York Film Festival and the year.

An intricate and precisely executed thriller written by Billy Ray, everything about "Captain Phillips" works amazingly. It's this year's "Zero Dark Thirty" in tension and features not one, but two fierce performances from Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi. A loose dramatization and not a fact to fact retelling of a dark day for an American captain, the film takes us through the days Captain Richard Phillips' cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. The film unravels itself with a narrative intensity bringing our hero from the day of his departure to the end of his journey. Writer Billy Ray's detailed and well-structured script provides Greengrass to do exactly what he does best in his directorial efforts. There are definite elements in "Captain Phillips" that remind me of the emotional and gut- wrenching effect that "United 93" had on so many of us nearly seven years ago. While you will have a near heart attack, you will be in tears by the end credits.

I haven't been this impressed with the work of Tom Hanks in years. Putting every ounce of his charm to good use but digging deep into a character with such raw and emotional fervency. Hanks' dedication and abilities utilized are the same tools used in his first Oscar-winning performance in "Philadelphia" I assure you. It's a turn that could make him this year's Daniel Day-Lewis. As his wife, the beautiful Catherine Keener is regulated to one single scene, at the beginning of our film, where Hanks dominates the conversation. Still a cherry on top if you ask me but not something that many will notice nor remember..

Breakthrough performer Barkhad Abdi is simply sensational. With a snarky demeanor as he calls Capt. Phillips "Irish" - Abdi plays Muse, a Somali pirate that is layered with pride and disdain for the human condition. Billy Ray gives him such a complexity, hinting at a sensitive undertone but not masking the overtly violent rage that embodies his soul; it's a creative formula that equals an interesting dichotomy. Abdi administers these traits brilliantly.

As you expect any Paul Greengrass film to be, the technical executions are top-notch including the intimate Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd and the tight editing of Christopher Rouse, both sure-fire Oscar nominees for awards season.

One of the amazing things about "Captain Phillips" is the final twenty minutes or so. Pent-up emotion that has built for nearly two hours, our hero's last moments with the audience are both triumphant and incredibly vulnerable. This is when Tom Hanks shows his true power as one of the finest actors to grace our screens. I admire the man. He captures the real human condition, both in courage and in the face of defeat. How would you react in what you thought could be your final moments on Earth? Who would you think about? What about if you did make it? Would you be so overcome with emotion that you couldn't focus on the blanket of safety that surrounds you, or would you just crumble into the fetus position, wanting to return to your place of origin? "Captain Phillips" renewed my love of the movies. It's what breathes life into my daily routine. It fascinates us and which is why, no matter how terrible our lives are, or how the economy falls beneath our feet, cinema still lives. Free as a bird. I'm in awe of all of this. I feel privileged to share those moments. Not to be hyperbolic or put focus on the Oscar race, which is what I do for a living, but "Captain Phillips" showed me what Tom Hanks really means to cinema. Our lives are habitual and ordinary at times, yet someone, every now and again, has the ability to capture those little quirks of our own selves. I think Hanks is this generation's treasure that will be remembered for years to come. I'm in near tears as I write this now. Paul Greengrass brought me personally into a situation that I will likely never be in and examined my frail and defenseless spiritual nature. Connection. That's what cinema is about. Few films do this. Many never will.

To get off the somber note, "Captain Phillips" is filled with high- levels of tension. Bring your defibrillator and a bottle of Xanex to make it through the picture as your heart will be beating outside of your chest. In so many ways, it's the perfect film. Real life, authentic characters, and a cast and crew that show up to deliver some of their finest works. A dynamite lesson of the human psyche.

"Captain Phillips" opens in theaters October 11.
2013-09-27
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