Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Captain Phillips: Movie Review

Walks the obvious Hollywood line but Hanks keeps us hanging in every moment.

“Captain Phillips” is the harrowing adventure of a US ship captain encountering pirates off the coast of Somalia, based on the real-life 2009 hijacking. Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is a veteran captain, always doing what’s right and can draw the respect of his crew, even if they think he’s a bit of a hard ass. If it sounds like a role that’s perfect for Tom Hanks, that’s because it is. 2013

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Screenplay by: Billy Ray

Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi

Hanks held this entire film together from the American hero opening to the obvious set-ups for the arrival of the pirates, to the fear mixed with confidence to do what’s right when the pirates arrive, to the absolute fear when he’s left on his own with the pirates, but always maintaining that sliver of hope that help will come. We know the story and know that help will come, but Hanks made this a story about him, so that we cared about him in every minute of his ordeal.

The only main problem with this film is how pure Hollywood it is. The opening scene features Phillips with his wife driving to the ship’s departure. The point of the scene is just a simple one that he’s a regular American, married with kids, and cares just as much about their future as his own immediate future. However, this point was driven home with horrendous dialogue about how hard it is for the young generation, that no matter how hard they work, it will never be as easy as it was for their parents. They desperately hope that every 18-34 year-old in the theater caught this – the producers needed their target audience to know that they care about them, that this story is all about them! I, however, don’t need Hollywood producers to worry about me. I need them to worry about the story they’re about to tell.

The story doesn’t deliver anything unexpected, but that’s actually fine because we really do just care about Hanks in every scene of the film. We know what he’s feeling and why’s feeling that way, and then we need to watch to the very end so we can get a sense of what he’ll be feeling in the future. Although what he’s going through in the moment is more important than anything in the future, and the film creates such a great atmosphere of suspense that they keep us hanging in the moment.