Captain Phillips (2013): Film Review

Tagline: “Out here survival is everything.”

Wow. I have definitely underestimated this film when I saw the trailer for it, even though I knew from the start it was something I wanted to go watch. From Paul Greengrass, director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, comes Captain Phillips. It is a psychological thriller based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips, whose cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009 and who was taken hostage for 4 days, having Tom Hanks in the lead role.

I have always been fond of Tom Hanks and I believe he is one of the greatest actors Hollywood has ever seen. Delivering a top notch performance in this film, he demonstrates just how adaptable he is as far as his acting career is concerned. The four African actors are by no means less commendable, especially Barkhad Abdi who plays Muse – their lead pirate.

You can see fear in Captain Phillips’ eyes throughout the two-hour development of the plot, knowing from the very start he must take precautionary measures given the route they must follow. Yet there is nothing to suggest that something so horrendous is about to happen, as far as the Captain is concerned. For all he knows, he must keep his crew and himself safe at all times regardless of the circumstances.

The scene where the Somali pirates board the ship despite the crew on board’s attempts to prevent this is truly riveting and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. However, there is a persistent sense of animosity between the four pirates which Captain Phillips easily senses, making him realise he might be able to trick them somehow. In order to save his and the crew’s lives he desperately tries to strike a deal with the head pirate, but I will let you find out by yourself how it all pans out upon viewing this incredibly suspense-packed film.

I have to say that Barkhad Abdi does a remarkable job of his film debut as an actor in this movie. He portrays the role of a pirate pushed by his peers and merchants in his village to provide money and goods quite perfectly. Even though the film does try to humanise him and make the audience empathise by highlighting the fact that he is just trying to make ends meet and that he has no intention of hurting anyone, I found it hard to find any shred of sympathy in me for his character.

Although Tom Hanks’ incredible acting skills are indisputable – Cast Away, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, The Green Mile or Saving Private Ryan to name just a few – I did not think he would be able to reprise such a fantastic performance and amaze me once again. The final 20-something minutes sum up Hanks’ acting capabilities and send out an emotion so powerful I came out of the screen with tears streaming down my face. I would go so far as to say his role in Captain Phillips is Oscar-worthy and the film will definitely be deemed one of the very finest out of his entire acting career. It is one of the greatest successes of the year as far as cinematography is concerned and I recommend seeing it 100%.

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