SYNOPSIS: Based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) who took on a routine voyage around the Horn of Africa in April 2009 when his ship was attacked by Somali Pirates led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi). “Nobody gets hurt,” Muse says. “Its just business.” But business turns violent when it becomes clear the expected million-dollar payday Muse and company were expecting isn’t going to pan out. As the situation escalates Phillips is taken aboard a life raft, kidnapped, bound for Somalia where he’ll be held for ransom.
Richard: 4 ½ Stars
Mark: 4 Stars
Richard: Mark, I don’t think it’s fair to charge audiences full price for screenings of Captain Phillips. While watching this I was reminded of the old Monster Trucks ads that bellowed, “You Pay for the Whole Seat but You’ll Only Need the Edge!” Director Paul Greengrass is a master of action who does a great job of portraying the vastness of the ocean and the isolation of the ship and its crew. I was dangling off the fron of my seat from about the 30 minute mark. You?
Mark: Yes, in fact I was so on edge I have a slicemark across my butt. I was so grateful the movie doesn’t waste a lot of time going into the backstories of the crew. The pirates arrive quickly and brutally. I was worried we’d have to endure a lot of bleeding heart nonsense about the pirates and their “point of view”. But that is kept to a minimum and the bad guys get to be bad guys and Tom Hanks, once again, can be a saint among men.
RC: I thought Hanks was terrific here. He is saintly, but he’s also heroic and stoic. I think it might have been easy to overplay this role but he keeps it subdued for the most part. (SPOILER ALERT) It’s only in the film’s final moments, when the ordeal is over, that Hanks really unloads with the kind of raw and shell shocked reaction that the Academy is going to love.
MB: The academy may also love the Somali pirate captain, Barhkad Abdi, who goes toe to toe with Hanks through the whole movie. I haven’t seen such a scary, haunting face since the days of German Expressionist cinema! The movie is riveting, but it isn’t surprising. There’s only one way this movie can end and it should be obvious halfway through. That having been said, I have no fingernails left.
RC: Abdi is great. This is an action movie and as written he is primarily a plot device to keep the action moving forward, but despite an underwritten part he brings some humanity to the villain role. His explanation for his way of life, that he is a victim of limited opportunity and not a bad man, helps place his actions in context.
MB: Greengrass has passed this way before, in United 93. But this is a lesser known story, so it’s easier to tense up and enjoy it.