Monday, 10 February 2014

Captain Philips (2013)


Captain Richard Phillips: Listen up, we have been boarded by armed pirates. If they find you, remember, you know this ship, they don't. Stick together and we'll be all right. Good luck.

I'll be honest, before this film came out, I knew very little about it, I didn't even know it was in the Oscar-horizon. And let's face it, it's not a high-alert contender in this year's filmmaking battle. 

First of, let's see what Captain Philips is all about - Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is - through director Paul Greengrass's distinctive lens - simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips' unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control. (

So what is it about Captain Phillips that makes it so appealing to the Academy Awards panel? I guess it was a little bit about the 'heroic' escape of an ordinary captain, and a lot to do with Tom Hanks. Much less so about the Somali pirates. 

But let's recap. Let us go back and look at why this film found its place into this year's Academy Award nominess in the Best Picture category. And where else to begin than the storyline.

The script was adapted from the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" written by Richard Philips and Stephan Talty, which was later adapted for the screen by Billy Ray ('The Hunger Games', 'State of Play' etc). As a story, this one seems more than intriguing...sadly, more on paper than it did on film. The story starts off bit, nothing more than an ordinary man going on about his daily routine in transporting a cargo ship through the Somalia gulf. All goes well then action hits, aka pirate attack by Somalian pirates. To the rescue comes the heroic captain, who makes it his mission not only to protect the ship but save everyone on board. 

This hyberbasis from the character of course, soon seems to backfire with dramatic results during the film. The slow paced rhythm along with the indifferent direction at various points seem to give out. They made the film tedious and its action packed climatic points seemed more like a mundane action video game that had better be called 'Save the Captain', rather an Award winning true story film. 

In all the kind respect I have for both the lead actor, Tom Hanks (The Green Mile, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, PhiladelphiaToy Story), and the director, Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Supremacy, United 93, I can fairly say that this film left me wanting and disappointed. I felt emotionally disconnected with the lead character, not caring as much as I should have, and worst of all wanting to wait around to actually to see whether he lives or dies at the end. 

The thumbs up for this particular film should go for cinematography by Barry Ackroyd, its film editing by Christopher Rouse, and its sound editing/mixing. The technical departments seemed to try to overcompensate to fill in the gaps and holes that the plot was leaving behind, which by the end of the film seemed to be providing a miniscule effort as well in the telling of a gripping story-telling.

It is worthy to pay notice to the actor playing the Somali pirate, a Mr. Barkad Abdi, who from the background check the media have made on him, he seemed to have been a limo driver before being cast in this horrifying ordeal of Captain Phillips. His agonizing performance as the Somali pirate who would do most about anything, even lose his own life and the lives of his companions, seemed, in my shockingly surprise, to surpass any of the over-acting that was done by the rest of the characters in this film.

A fair mention to the guest starring screen wife of Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, who seemed to be more of a prop and an empathy symbol, rather than a character to even begin to establish an emotional connection with.

Bearing in mind that this tale is based on true events though, one might be a little more lenient with the events unravelling in front of our screen and even go as far as to extend a form of sympathy by the end of it, mostly for the lead character.

Personally, I found myself in excruciating agony of when the film was finally going to wrap up and gloriously exhilirated when it finally did. Likewise, I can understand why the Academy snubbed Tom Hanks for an Oscar nomination this year, but equally so I seem to feel buffled with the Academy's choice to include this film into their Best Picture category.

Granted for anyone who is a Tom Hanks supporter, watch it for the tale of it but be warned, that there's not many thrills and chills in its resolution. Nothing you haven't seen before, nothing you won't see again.


.                                       Captain Phillips Trailer (2013)

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