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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Movie Review: "Captain Phillips" (2013)

I've been watching the 2013 Best Picture nominees furiously in an attempt to see them before the Oscars air on 3/2/14 and Captain Phillips (directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks) was the latest. Captain Phillips is an excellent, intense movie that is worthy of the nominations it has received (six total nominations). It is based on the true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabamahijacking, an incident during which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse.

Captain Richard Phillips (played by Hanks) takes command of the container ship the Maersk Alabama in Oman. He is supposed to take the ship from there to Mombasa, Kenya and around the Horn of Africa. In order to do this, he will have to sail near Somalia where pirates have been very active. The ship is unarmed, which makes him even more worrisome, so he puts as many security precautions in place as possible and conducts practice drills in case of a pirate attack. It is during one of these drills, that pirates do indeed come upon them. Phillips is initially able to outrun them, but one small skiff with 4 armed pirates returns and eventually board & take control of the ship. The pirates are led by Abduwali Muse (played by Barkhad Abdi) who plans on ransoming the ship & crew in hopes to obtain millions of dollars in exchange. The ship's power is eventually cut off and the pirates wind up taking Phillips hostage & leaving the ship in a lifeboat, headed for Somalia. The U.S. Navy begins operations to rescue Phillips & take down the pirates. It's an intense chain of events that bring the movie to its ultimate conclusion.

Greengrass is excellent at directing this type of movie and no other modern director is able to portray sheer intense terror like him. He is the master of using a handheld camera to depict such harrowing events. He has done it time & time again, from United 93 to his two Bourne movies and now with Captain Phillips. This movie is intense, suspenseful (even if you know how it ends), chaotic, thrilling, and depicts the culture clash of the Western World & the Third World perfectly. These pirates are desperate and that is exactly how they are portrayed...desperate & dangerous. The movie is ultimately a chess game, played out between Hanks as Phillips and Abdi as Muse...and these 2 actors convey that game very well. It's amazing to think that this is Abdi's first film as he was essentially plucked off of the streets in Minneapolis to play this key role for which he is nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, a nomination he most definitely deserved. And Hanks turns in yet another amazing performance as he depicts the will, courage, strength, and fear of Phillips like no other actor can. He runs the gamut of emotions and shows great acting range. The performances, the cinematography, and Greengrass' direction are what make this movie so good.

Yes, this is a damn good movie...8.0/10 stars

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