Captain Phillips: Hanks at his best

Captain Phillips Movie PosterBy Sean Molloy 

By now we all know the story of Captain Phillips. One man sacrifices himself to save his crew from a group of Somali pirates that take over a container ship for profit. This movie could absolutely be boring. Extended periods of time revolve around moving the ship back and forth and firing off water jets to try to prevent the pirates from taking over. But by the trailers and the real story that has been everywhere, we know the pirates come aboard. We know than Captain Phillips gets taken, and we KNOW that he gets rescued. You would have to under a rock to not know the story by now. That’s where Captain Phillips becomes brilliant, and a sure fire Best Picture nomination. It’s all in the execution ladies and gentlemen, Paul Greengrass takes the movie to places where I would not expect and I loved every second. Almost.

Paul Greengrass gained his fame as the awesome hand held camera only director of the Bourne movies and United 93. I was apprehensive in this approach to the Captain Phillips story. And I was so, so wrong. The small hallways, the movement around the container ship itself and the cramped quarters of the lifeboat could have not have been done any other way. Greengrass makes the audience feel like they are hiding from the pirates and are trapped in every way just like the characters in the film. I couldn’t get enough of how this movie was made. It just all works perfect.

Many arguments can be made that Captain Phillips is a one-man show; and in some ways it is, yet, in other ways it isn’t. Before I dive in to Tom Hanks’ tremendous performance I have to give special recognition of the casting of real Somali, fresh actors to bring a sense of realism to the story. Again, I need to use the word “feel,” the audience really feels the contrast and friction between the pirates as moral lines are drawn as to how far someone is willing to go. Another quick mention is the authenticity of the SEAL Team Six actors (?) and how the execution is pulled of; the whole sequence is one gigantic adrenaline rush. Ok now, Hanks. The man does what he always does, no matter how questionable a script or how hokey a character might be; Tom Hanks brings out the very best in screen acting today. Captain Phillips is no exception. The calm and poised character in the beginning is thrust into a position he would never imagine being in. He must stay strong for his crew and yet at the same time you can see the performance capture the vulnerability of a man accepting that he might not make it out. You are simply fully engulfed in the movie when Hanks is on screen, he just owns it. During the final minutes, we get the privilege of watching a Best Acting Oscar nomination happen before our eyes. I won’t say where exactly it is, but when you see it, you’ll know.

Captain Phillips is film making at its best. Brilliant camera and editing accompanied by a great cast all around. Oh yeah and that Tom Hanks guy is pretty good too. If I have to nitpick about anything, it’s that the movie can feel a little long at times.  But not enough to take away from the overall score.

Grade: A

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