Adam's Review of Captain Phillips
I'm sure your all familiar with the true story of Captain Phillips? If not let me tell you alittle bit about the event that started on April 8th 2009 and ended four long days later on April 12th. Four Somali Pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama cargo ship on route toward Mombasa, Kenya and after a struggle they got on board with the intentions of taking over the ship and sailing it to Somalia. However the crew fought back and the pirates were forced to leave the ship on a lifeboat, with the captain as a hostage. After 3 days on the lifeboat, the U.S military were able to safely rescue Phillips from the pirates. I had previously herd about this on the news. It was fascinating, and I knew at once it had potential to be film adapted. And here we are, October 2013. Captain Phillip and his crew's story of heroism and survival have been painted onto the big screen. The film went onto be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It didn't win, but I can see why it got nominated. It's a great film, and I'll tell you why. My review of 'Captain Phillips'.
'Captain Phillips' tells the true story of the crew of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship of which was on route toward Mombasa, Kenya when a group of four Somali Pirates hijacked the ship. But when the crew fought back, the four Somalians were forced to hold the Captain (Played by Tom Hanks) hostage on a life boat.
Ok, so I may have just spoiled the whole film for you. But odds are you have already read in the paper the story of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship hijacking and already knew what was going to happen. Anyways, the story is told in a pretty solid fashion. The cast which includes real simalians (Smart casting decision) powerfully convey the emotions and energy that the real crew and pirates were probably having at the time of the incident. 'Tom Hanks' leads the cast as the Captain. With Hanks, you used to be able to tell that if he's in the film, it's going to be good, but lately with disaster 'Larry Crowne' and pile of migraines 'Cloud Atlas' you can't tell anymore. But rest easy, maybe Hanks is getting back to his old self. He acts with ease, sending the audience the heartbreaking emotions of his predicament. His acting leads the film, and you want him to make it, to continue to fight back and get on. He played perfectly the average man, ho when thrusted into a problem acts as any average man would act. Not all John McClain sudden action hero. His last 5 minutes of screentime are the most emotional minutes the entire film has, all because of his performance. 'Barkhad Abdi' is the scene stealer though as the leader of the hijacking pirates. He is smart, leadership worthy, and pitiful. He isn't the worst guy; he just wants money and will do anything for it. He isn't crazy or just plain kill-hungry. He just wants money. He stole all the scenes he had, and I wish he'd been given a better chance at the Academy Awards.
What makes 'Captain Phillips' a success is its direction from 'Paul Greengrass'. Greengrass successively captures the true story on camera with skill. His camera work is impressive and smart, bringing you into the action, seeing things the way Phillips and other's see things. It's really worthwhile to watch. He gives us a few nice shots of the boats as well as a view of Somalia. Oh, and we can't forget those neat shots of the lifeboat from the U.S military's point of view... that was pretty neat.
A problem here is the jagged editing. The pace doesn't help anything either. The film runs to fast into its action and the editing doesn't keep up, jolting us back and forth with quick glances at Hanks and then to Abdi and it makes your eyes kind of roll right into your head. The editing and pacing make it hard for you to concentrate on the emotional center the cast is trying to convey. It's too fast and jittery for you to be able to grab anything to hold onto. It ends in a blur, a big blue blur. You try your best to keep steady but in the end it tips you over. Not to say it ruined the film, just made it harder to fully engulf yourself into when you have to concentrate on everything to make sure you processed it. If you will, relate the pacing to a speeding motor boat, and relate the editing to the hard waves you hit when your fast boat hits the waves. That's what you feel watching this. However points go to it as well, for keeping you on the edge of your seat.
The music gives a very dynamic performance as well. Even if the film isn't as holding as it should be, the music tries to catch the viewer and hold them as long as it can. It is original, it is moving, it is almost as quick and loud as the film itself is, and it holds you. It gets you to the edge of your seat. It's like a beating and as soon as someone moves it grows loud jumping out at you, to waken you, get you more invested in what is about to go down. In the end it's a clever score, with a few nice bits of music that work well with the scene's going on.
The script is very smart as well. The script writer, 'Billy Ray', adapts the true story in very good fashion. While I'll admit, he does add to the story to more fully cinematize the story for the big screen. But, gratefully enough it doesn't do anything to alter the story too much, but instead showcases the heroics of the crew and Captain. It's the true American tale and it's told quite well. There seem to be no inaccuracies here, it looks to me that 'Billy Ray' took some time to research the ship and such to make the film as accurate as possible, and I have to pat him on the back for his work. The script deserved the nod at the Academy Awards for best screenplay. It's a solid and smart script and beyond tense, even if it isn't as emotionally driven as it could've and should've been.
Making use of its solid 50 million budge, the film sports great production values, what with the ships and scenery and waves, it's all put to the best use to make this tale as accurate in portrayal as it is on paper. 'Paul Greengrass' knew what he wanted to do with the true tale, and succeeds in using what he had to faithfully adapt the story for the screen.
All and all, 'Captain Phillips' is a solidly acted, tense, and smartly scripted film from the great 'Paul Greengrass' but I must express my sadness at the film not having been as emotionally connected as it should have been. B+ 3/27/14
P.S: Next up for 'Tom Hanks' was playing another real life hero... just not in the same fashion as Walt Disney in 'Saving Mr. Banks'. I have yet to see the film, but from Hank's performance here, I can hopefully rest at ease that Disney won't go to shame with his onscreen portrayal.