By the end of the film, we really don't much about the men on board, or the hijackers, or even Phillips himself. He's simply an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation, but perhaps more ordinary than most.
...too long and doesn't hold up the tension or danger long enough. Hanks lends his Phillips some emotional heft, but the typical heroics of the Hollywood thriller seem out of place in this style of presentation.
Captain Phillips repeatedly underlines the Navy's brilliance, and also the contest between Rich and Muse, their exchanged looks in a tight, hot space suggesting they might share a burden. But they can't.
Mostly adapted from the Captain's memoir Captain Phillips is conversely taut and slack; culturally savvy and naive; politically astute and manipulative; emotionally sincere and embarrassingly overwrought.
Captain Phillips is indeed a gripping, grueling, agonizing, nail-biting, brutalizing, kick-punching motion picture, but beyond the technical thrills and vise-grip tension, it also offers a weary, hard-won empathy.