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Review: Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips
Oct. 10, 2013by:
9 10

PLOT: The true story of Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) who-as the captain of the merchant marine vessel the Maersk Alabama- was taken hostage by Somali Pirates.

REVIEW: CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is vintage Tom Hanks. By that I mean that CAPTAIN PHILLIPS proves, now and forever, that despite a series of underwhelming movies (THE DAVINCI CODE, ANGELS & DEMONS, LARRY CROWNE) Tom Hanks is still at the top of his game. This is likely his best role since ROAD TO PERDITION, and a movie that's all but guaranteed to put him back in the best actor race at the Oscars, for the first time since CAST AWAY in 2000.

A fact-based thriller, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is edge-of-your-seat stuff, regardless of how familiar you are with the true story behind Captain Phillips' ordeal with the pirates. Director Paul Greengrass marries his cinema verit-style from UNITED 93 with the audience-pleasing appeal of the BOURNE films to deliver a movie that should please both the crowds and the critics.

It helps that CAPTAIN PHILLIPS feels like a role that couldn't possibly have been played by anyone but Hanks. He really embodies the American every-man, and playing Phillips, he's incredibly personable and easy to identify with. Unlike a lot of other directors, Greengrass never succumbs to melodrama. There are no cutaways to Phillips' family back home (his wife, played by Catherine Keener, is only briefly shown) keeping the film confined to what is happening at sea. It's not needed, and despite running a lengthy 130 minutes, Greengrass keeps the film moving at an exceptionally fast pace. Likewise, Hanks' performance as Phillips feels incredibly disciplined and authentic, with Phillips maintaining a mostly stoic demeanour until late in the film.

One of the most intriguing things about Greengrass' approach is the compassion and empathy he shows the Somali pirates. In a more jingoistic film, they would have been cardboard baddies, but Greengrass (and screenwriter Billy Ray) portray them in a three-dimensional way that- while not excusing their crimes- makes you understand their motivations. Greengrass avoids being preachy, but it's a necessary element that would have been absent from many other films. As the head pirate, Barkhad Abdi doesn't play a caricature or a two-dimensional monster, and if anything, knowing the motivations behind his crimes, and seeing his life back in Somalia makes his actions even more chilling, as we know he's got nothing to lose.

At the same time, this does not at all condone their actions. Clearly, Greengrass is portraying them as bad guys and not misunderstood victims of circumstance, which is nicely addressed by Phillips himself later in the film. The audience's sympathy is kept squarely with the resourceful and clever Captain, and Hanks's everyman heroism is comparable to the types of performances given by actors like Henry Fonda or James Stewart in their prime. Greengrass never goes too over the top by idealizing Phillips (a quick scene depicts him as a tough taskmaster at sea with union troubles), but it's clear that this is a character we're meant to identify with, and root for, which we certainly do.

Like the BOURNE's, Greengrass isn't above staging some high-octane action, and the climatic SEAL assault is comparable to what Katherine Bigalow accomplished with ZERO DARK THIRTY. The tension is ramped up to almost unbearable levels throughout, although at the same time, it doesn't feel too Hollywood and comes off as reasonably authentic (although really- who knows?).

Technically, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is as accomplished as any of Greengrass' other films, with the usual realistic cinematography from Barry Ackroyd, and a stirring score by Henry Jackman (doing a great job filling-in for Greengrass regular John Powell). My only issue is that, as usual with a Greengrass movie, the camera never stops jumping around, although by this point that's just Greengrass' style, and to be fair, it's less obvious here than in the last BOURNE or THE GREEN ZONE.

All told, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is another top-notch entry into an already amazing awards season. It's right-in-line with the best both Greengrass and Hanks have to offer, providing them both with a vehicle that allows them to perform at the top of their game. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS should not be missed.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:36AM on 10/14/2013
One of the best flicks I'd say for 2013. Marvelous performance by Hanks, and the actors who played the Somali pirates. The lead "bad guy" was especially riveting. I'd heard about Greengrass's shaky camera-work, but I didn't think it was overbearing...not very noticebale, actually.
One of the best flicks I'd say for 2013. Marvelous performance by Hanks, and the actors who played the Somali pirates. The lead "bad guy" was especially riveting. I'd heard about Greengrass's shaky camera-work, but I didn't think it was overbearing...not very noticebale, actually.
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6:32PM on 10/11/2013
Glad this is good. I wanted to spoon my eyes out during Green Zone, so happy he's back on track!
Glad this is good. I wanted to spoon my eyes out during Green Zone, so happy he's back on track!
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3:08PM on 10/11/2013

Can't wait.

I thought that after Green Zone Paul Greengrass was going to start making flops....but this movie sounds to be one of the best thillers ever.

Ohh and the antagonist was driving a Cab before being cast as Muse.
[link]
I thought that after Green Zone Paul Greengrass was going to start making flops....but this movie sounds to be one of the best thillers ever.

Ohh and the antagonist was driving a Cab before being cast as Muse.
[link]
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+1
5:00AM on 10/11/2013
A fantastic film that's very intense and well directed. Greengrass is always so excellent at adding depth to what could simply be a bad guys vs. good guys story. I've heard the mixed things about how accurate the film is, but it does little to sway how good the film is. And it's impressive that Hanks is able to be so physical at his age. He does quite a bit of physical action here. He's definitely in top form for this film. However, I find Abdi to be a bit more impressive. Considering this is
A fantastic film that's very intense and well directed. Greengrass is always so excellent at adding depth to what could simply be a bad guys vs. good guys story. I've heard the mixed things about how accurate the film is, but it does little to sway how good the film is. And it's impressive that Hanks is able to be so physical at his age. He does quite a bit of physical action here. He's definitely in top form for this film. However, I find Abdi to be a bit more impressive. Considering this is his first film, he does an incredible job of adding depth and humanity to his character. There's a certain level of sympathy I felt from them. They certainly couldn't be forgiven, but as the review says, their motivations are well explained. Best of all is that Muse is not a monster, which he easily could have been. An excellent movie that should not be missed.
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7:45PM on 10/10/2013

Saw it last Saturday

Caught the screening last Saturday and I have to say it's really a great film. Well shot, edited, directed and absolutely superb acting on Hanks part...wow! Although he's fantastic throughout there's a sequence in the film that spans roughly 3-5 minutes that almost guarantees him an Oscar nomination. It's like watching Deniro in Silver Linings Playbook and getting to see an iconic actor dig deep again after a few modest roles over the past few years. As well the actor playing the lead Somali
Caught the screening last Saturday and I have to say it's really a great film. Well shot, edited, directed and absolutely superb acting on Hanks part...wow! Although he's fantastic throughout there's a sequence in the film that spans roughly 3-5 minutes that almost guarantees him an Oscar nomination. It's like watching Deniro in Silver Linings Playbook and getting to see an iconic actor dig deep again after a few modest roles over the past few years. As well the actor playing the lead Somali leader is shockingly good and goes toe to toe with Hanks in an impressive way. Would love to see him get some recognition.
The "facts" situation is irrelevant to me because plain and simple this is a movie not a documentary and if anything its more of a testament to the decisive people in the military who saved him. It's worth the time and money.
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5:01AM on 10/11/2013
I'm curious to know which scene you thought. Hanks certainly did an excellent job, I don't doubt he will get an oscar nod, but I am very curious to know which scene you're specifically talking about.
I'm curious to know which scene you thought. Hanks certainly did an excellent job, I don't doubt he will get an oscar nod, but I am very curious to know which scene you're specifically talking about.
4:34PM on 10/11/2013
SPOILERS:

I'm assuming you've seen the film--

The scene I'm referring to is the last 5 minutes or so from the point in which he's blindfolded through the shooting to his shell shock at the end. He balanced those last 5 minutes expertly with the previous 2+ hours in which Phillips is portrayed as fairly tough, capable, calm and in control. I personally thought it was real, authentic and captured the vulnerability and humanity of someone who had endured that level of trauma. I'm no expert
SPOILERS:

I'm assuming you've seen the film--

The scene I'm referring to is the last 5 minutes or so from the point in which he's blindfolded through the shooting to his shell shock at the end. He balanced those last 5 minutes expertly with the previous 2+ hours in which Phillips is portrayed as fairly tough, capable, calm and in control. I personally thought it was real, authentic and captured the vulnerability and humanity of someone who had endured that level of trauma. I'm no expert in that area (although an avid student of human behavior) but you could hear a "pin drop" in the theater during that last sequence. I was like "Hanks you did it!" make more room on the shelf!...for a nomination at least...
8:22AM on 10/15/2013
Totally agree with you. I wasn't prepared for the last five minutes and in retrospect think it is the best approximation of shock I (or any audience) has been submitted to. When I saw it you couldn't hear a pin drop though because there was too much crying and sniffling going on. Seriously blew me away. I know it is at the end and so won't get much mention in reviews but I don't know how you review this film with out at least mentioning this scene. Fantastic work.
Totally agree with you. I wasn't prepared for the last five minutes and in retrospect think it is the best approximation of shock I (or any audience) has been submitted to. When I saw it you couldn't hear a pin drop though because there was too much crying and sniffling going on. Seriously blew me away. I know it is at the end and so won't get much mention in reviews but I don't know how you review this film with out at least mentioning this scene. Fantastic work.
+1
4:52PM on 10/10/2013

Movie looks good...but

"A fact-based thriller" is a rather loose use of the word "fact". In truth, his crew claimed he was an arrogant, pompous, incompetent tool who ignored several warnings, failed to inform them of the danger he was placing them in and did not volunteer to go with pirates, was just taken by force.

[link]

[link]

The movie does look outstanding but I just can't bring myself to shell out money on something that keeps propping this tool up as some sort of hero. ">
"A fact-based thriller" is a rather loose use of the word "fact". In truth, his crew claimed he was an arrogant, pompous, incompetent tool who ignored several warnings, failed to inform them of the danger he was placing them in and did not volunteer to go with pirates, was just taken by force.

[link]

[link]

The movie does look outstanding but I just can't bring myself to shell out money on something that keeps propping this tool up as some sort of hero.
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5:45PM on 10/10/2013
I agree. I just read somewhere that his crew is suing him for various reasons and that he was warned multiple times to stay at least 500 miles from the Somalian coast and he refuses to listen. Not understanding where heroism comes into play, or why they decided to make a movie about this guy. I wont be shelling out cash for this one either.
I agree. I just read somewhere that his crew is suing him for various reasons and that he was warned multiple times to stay at least 500 miles from the Somalian coast and he refuses to listen. Not understanding where heroism comes into play, or why they decided to make a movie about this guy. I wont be shelling out cash for this one either.
4:55AM on 10/11/2013
Hmmm, he's not exactly portrayed as a hero, although Hanks does portray him as a man who is intelligent and does a great deal both to survive and help his crew survive. There is also a scene that addresses this issue of them going through pirate waters. It's also based on a book that phillips himself wrote, so it's addressed through his point of view. Overall, it's an excellent movie and, despite what you may think, it shouldn't be missed.
Hmmm, he's not exactly portrayed as a hero, although Hanks does portray him as a man who is intelligent and does a great deal both to survive and help his crew survive. There is also a scene that addresses this issue of them going through pirate waters. It's also based on a book that phillips himself wrote, so it's addressed through his point of view. Overall, it's an excellent movie and, despite what you may think, it shouldn't be missed.
4:40PM on 10/10/2013
Happy you enjoyed it and happy to hear Hanks is turning it around and getting back on top, his career is a legacy, there's no one else like him. With that said though I'm in no rush to see this at all. Not a Greengrass fan, not since Bloody Sunday, I can tolerate his 2 Bourne films, but the first will always be the best IMO. I find Paul's choices of storytelling and filmmaking; annoying, gimmicky, and boring.
Happy you enjoyed it and happy to hear Hanks is turning it around and getting back on top, his career is a legacy, there's no one else like him. With that said though I'm in no rush to see this at all. Not a Greengrass fan, not since Bloody Sunday, I can tolerate his 2 Bourne films, but the first will always be the best IMO. I find Paul's choices of storytelling and filmmaking; annoying, gimmicky, and boring.
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-6
3:18PM on 10/10/2013

So this is a under siege remake only more realistic?

Does seagal have a cameo?
Looking forward to it, true story or not.
Does seagal have a cameo?
Looking forward to it, true story or not.
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2:46PM on 10/10/2013

Movie title should be: Captain Idiot

Another true story manufactured in Hollywood. Some FACTS can be found here in this article: Richard Phillips, whose real life 2009 ordeal with Somali pirates is subject of new movie starring Tom Hanks, has come under fire from several former employees who claim his negligence caused the crisis. Nine seamen who were aboard the Maersk Alabama during the April 2009 crisis filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the shipping company that owns the ship charging that it's Capt. Richard
Another true story manufactured in Hollywood. Some FACTS can be found here in this article: Richard Phillips, whose real life 2009 ordeal with Somali pirates is subject of new movie starring Tom Hanks, has come under fire from several former employees who claim his negligence caused the crisis. Nine seamen who were aboard the Maersk Alabama during the April 2009 crisis filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the shipping company that owns the ship charging that it's Capt. Richard Phillips' own fault for placing them all in jeopardy. The main contention of the lawsuit is that Phillips, 57, ignored maritime warnings including one issued two days before the pirates stormed their vessel to stay at least 600 miles from the Somali coast because of a spate of attacks, which kept them from staying on schedule.
Read more: [link]ixzz2hLWH2HVk
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2:45PM on 10/10/2013
I got to see this last Saturday night. Really enjoyed it. I have been recommending this to all of my friends & family. It was so good.
I got to see this last Saturday night. Really enjoyed it. I have been recommending this to all of my friends & family. It was so good.
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1:09PM on 10/10/2013
Glad to see the positive review for this. Tom Hanks' last few movies haven't been the best reviewed, so wasn't sure how this one would go over. But glad to see it's Hanks in top form and business as usual. I for one am not entirely familiar with the story, only that there was a ship taken by pirates and the SEALs went in to tear shit up, but not familiar with any of the details. So looking forward to checking this out and being completely fresh to the story.

Also, glad to hear Greengrass
Glad to see the positive review for this. Tom Hanks' last few movies haven't been the best reviewed, so wasn't sure how this one would go over. But glad to see it's Hanks in top form and business as usual. I for one am not entirely familiar with the story, only that there was a ship taken by pirates and the SEALs went in to tear shit up, but not familiar with any of the details. So looking forward to checking this out and being completely fresh to the story.

Also, glad to hear Greengrass didn't get melodramatic with this by having the flashbacks to Philips life at home or something like that. And the fact that he was able to keep the entire narrative aboard the boat and centred on the crisis at hand and manage a 130 minute length I think speaks to how great this story is.
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11:36AM on 10/10/2013
I'm intrigued. Will eventually view at home. I'll always have faith in Hanks.

Still a terrible title...
I'm intrigued. Will eventually view at home. I'll always have faith in Hanks.

Still a terrible title...
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11:22AM on 10/10/2013
I've been excited for this for quite some time now and am delighted to read the review above. Will definitely be seeing it this weekend.
I've been excited for this for quite some time now and am delighted to read the review above. Will definitely be seeing it this weekend.
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11:01AM on 10/10/2013
I think Hanks won't have a problem nabbing a Best Actor Oscar nomination for this, and from this and other reviews, it sounds like the movie itself might have a shot at the Best Picture title too. I'm looking forward to it; it does seem intense and authentic. Does Greengrass' signature shaky cam style come into play here?
I think Hanks won't have a problem nabbing a Best Actor Oscar nomination for this, and from this and other reviews, it sounds like the movie itself might have a shot at the Best Picture title too. I'm looking forward to it; it does seem intense and authentic. Does Greengrass' signature shaky cam style come into play here?
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10:59AM on 10/10/2013
Will definitely be checking this out this weekend. Hanks looks like he's in top form, which is difficult to say for most veteran actors these days.

But everything from this film looks terrific and I would love to see Hanks walk away with his third Oscar for this.
Will definitely be checking this out this weekend. Hanks looks like he's in top form, which is difficult to say for most veteran actors these days.

But everything from this film looks terrific and I would love to see Hanks walk away with his third Oscar for this.
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12:42PM on 10/10/2013
You'd think these malakas would grow up and stop down-voting you...(-28) whatevers. I agree with you, and yes it would be amazing to see Hanks win another one.
You'd think these malakas would grow up and stop down-voting you...(-28) whatevers. I agree with you, and yes it would be amazing to see Hanks win another one.
1:02PM on 10/10/2013
I make it a point to thumb you up Soloist. whoever these troglodytes are, they know not the ways of the Force.
I make it a point to thumb you up Soloist. whoever these troglodytes are, they know not the ways of the Force.
2:20PM on 10/10/2013
Yeah I read this and saw -24 and thought what the hell. This is really a fairly neutral statement. What have you done to these people to make them hate your comments so? I would wear that - 24 on a shirt as a badge of honor with captain Phillips movie review comment in parenthesis on the back. All black
Yeah I read this and saw -24 and thought what the hell. This is really a fairly neutral statement. What have you done to these people to make them hate your comments so? I would wear that - 24 on a shirt as a badge of honor with captain Phillips movie review comment in parenthesis on the back. All black
2:32PM on 10/10/2013
Seriously Soloist, I've been on the same page as CaptAhab and BillClay for a while now! I don't get all the down votes and make a point to thumbs up you too!!!
Seriously Soloist, I've been on the same page as CaptAhab and BillClay for a while now! I don't get all the down votes and make a point to thumbs up you too!!!
9:01PM on 10/10/2013
Agreed. No reason to give someone a thumbs down for a positive statement that makes sense and isn't troll-y or inflammatory on purpose. Thumbs up for you Soloist.
Agreed. No reason to give someone a thumbs down for a positive statement that makes sense and isn't troll-y or inflammatory on purpose. Thumbs up for you Soloist.
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