Captain Phillips – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

capt phillipsCaptain Phillips – 3.5/5 – Real Events; one of the many things used as the basis of many films.  Through the entire basis that can be used in films, this specific element is used with the intention to create a humanistic aspect of life.  In that being said, Captain Phillips is a great exposition of social structure of two different worlds, but in the end, it is a straight forward dramatization of a real life situation.

Premise: The film follows the true story of Captain Richard Phillips, as his cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama. This is the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.

In the lead role of Captain Richard Phillips is Tom Hanks.  This actor has a plethora of memorable roles, and this particular role is another great addition to his catalog.  As Captain Phillips, he provides someone who is both admirable and down to earth.  Through interactions with the ship’s crew and the kidnappers, you see he is very calculated in his actions and dialogue.  As you watch his calm persona in action, he keeps the situations from leading to a tragic event.  Also through his dialogue, you are engrossed by his humility, as he tries to provide some existence of hope even when there seems to be none.  Within his perspective, you see that quality to the film’s ‘real world’ events, but also are brought to appreciate his acting as he creates dramatic tension through subtlety.  Opposite Tom Hanks we have the leader of the Somali Pirates, Muse.  He is played by actor Barkhad Abdi.  In this role, opposite Tom Hanks, Abdi does an amazing job in providing a complimentary in contrast towards Captain Phillips.  This contrast is evident, as you see both characters interact with each other.  Through his acting, interactions and eventually kidnapping, you watch as the layers of his character are created by his choices and genuine personality to succeed.  This personal bravado created by Abdi helps for the audience to conceive empathy for him, providing depth to the situation of the captive Phillips.  You understand his motives, and his reasoning to do these unspeakable acts (he has no choice).  When it comes to the rest of the cast, they are helpful in providing immersion into these true events, but they don’t have any true characteristic for themselves.  You have the crew of the Maersk Alabama, the military, and the Somali pirates.  They are good for movement of the story, but nothing more.

The direction of the film is based around the simple recreation of the actual events.  In that simplistic motive, we don’t get any typical movie flare or overtly dramatic situations.  What you do get are standard sequences of convenient plot points that links the prologue, main conflict, exposition/story and climax together.  In the beginning, we see as both characters are set off from their starting points.  We have Captain Phillips prepare for his voyage on the Maersk Alabama, as well as Muse and his pirate crew preparing for taking over any ship at sea.  From here, we get general character back stories from these starting points. From these points, the movie moves along a sequential path, as both character’s paths collide to create the film’s central conflict.  From here till the film’s end; it is an adrenaline rush of a different shade of tension.  Most the time, a film that has this kind of rush, it is usually created by big action sequences or war-like scenarios.  The director takes a different route; building upon the separation of both worlds (Through the separate introduction of the main two characters) to create the tension.  Here, we move slowly through the bulk of the film created by social exposition.  This creates a mirroring contrast that is reflective, even if it is not relative to the audience.  Both characters are captains, for different reasons.  Both want to have lives without fear, but go about it different ways.  Through the difference of their background, the two characters help create a fragile line of human angling with the fear of the unknown.  This is where the film shines, as it grips you to the real life situation, even when you know how it will end.  Once the film hits the climax, the military comes into the fray to help rescue Captain Phillips.  Here, the film boils down to predictable military setup that leads to the happily ever kind of end.

The visuals of Captain Phillips are a mixture of the mundane and genuine.  With this filming being mostly at sea, there isn’t much to be wowed by the landscape.  The vastness of the ocean is a great complexion, but it leaves the film with an obvious weakness.  Even in this, the subtle shots and close ups help the film progress steadily.  The score is enjoyable, but not amazing.  The usage of the music is expected, but it doesn’t hinder the films favorability.

Overall, Captain Phillips is a great experience that combines with actual event.  Tom Hanks is great as Richard Phillips, and the antagonist Muse is also wonderfully created by new coming actor Barkhad Abdi.  The story structure is simple, but it is effective in creating tension with dialogue.  If you’re a fan of real world styled films, this is one for you.  You won’t be disappointed.

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