Captain Phillips

Posted in movies by - October 19, 2013
Captain Phillips

This movie made me dizzier than ‘Gravity’ did. Paul Greengrass is a fine filmmaker, but he seems unable to settle down the camera, ever. The constant, restless, often aimless jitter really wore me down.

That’s kind of a shame, because the story ‘Captain Phillips’ is trying to tell is interesting, and Greengrass goes to some pains to tell it in an interesting way.

The film purports to tell the true story of an American commercial sea captain whose vessel was hijacked off the coast of Somalia. Captain Phillips agrees to be taken hostage in an escape vehicle in order to protect his crew, and over the next several days the US prepares and executes a dramatic response and rescue.

The movie spends some time on the shore in Somalia, where we see the forces that turn subsistence fishermen into pirates. We spend a lot of time in the film with the painfully frail Muse, who leads the small crew that hijacks the Alabama, and he is given enough room to be a real person rather than a cartoon villain.

There is debate about the accuracy of the story that undergirds the movie (which is based on Phillips’ memoir). The crew of the Maersk Alabama is involved in ongoing litigation against their employer and has quite unpleasant things to say about their captain.

Greengrass chooses to portray the captain as a serious, noble, and deeply empathic man who followed every protocol to the letter and sacrificed himself readily for the good of the crew. He may be just such a man, and no one plays that kind of man better than Tom Hanks.

He also might not, and it’s the soulful performance of Barkhad Abdi that keeps this movie from becoming entirely dry and jingoistic. The media story in 2009 ended up being about firepower and marksmanship, but Greengrass manages to sneak in a few interesting questions about the world we’re creating as resources dwindle and desperation sets in.

This post was written by MisterDee

Leave Your Comment