<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 21, 2013

Captain Phillips Movie Review: Well Crafted, Well Acted Thrilling Docu-Drama

BASED ON the true story of Captain Richard Phillips as written in his book “A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea”, “Captain Phillips” is about the experience of the eponymous hero (played by Tom Hanks) in April 2009 when their cargo-container ship, Maersk Alabama, is attacked by four armed Somali pirates while on their way to Kenya. Phillips saves his men but is taken captive aboard a life boat where he uses his own guile to save himself and be rescued by the US Navy Seals.

The film is directed by Paul Greengrass, best known for “The Bourne Supremacy” and “Bourne Ultimatum” but he also showed his competence in telling a true story in “United 93”, about the United Airlines flight that perished in 9-11. For you to appreciate the film, you should bear in mind that this is not the usual action-thriller where an ordinary guy is transformed into an indestructible action hero who defeats all the bad guys. Instead, it’s a realistic re-telling of an actual event and the result is an intense thriller that runs for more than two hours. But since this is helmed by Greengrass, be prepared also for his frequent use of the jerky handheld camera.

Tom Hanks has managed to hold a film all by himself in “Castaway” and this time, he almost does this again as an Everyman who is placed in a dangerous predicament. The film starts showing him leaving their home in Vermont and being taken by his wife (Catherine Keener) to the airport for his next assignment as Merchant Marine officer. It’s just an ordinary day and they talk about their kids, like other ordinary couples do. Then he boards the ship.

And the pirates hijack it. He tries his best to prevent a violent confrontation with the pirates and tries to resolve the problem by engaging in a game of wits and thinking ahead of his captors. The four pirates are ably played by newcomers, particularly Barkhad Abdi as Muse, their de-facto leader, and Faysal Ahmed as the hot-headed Najee. They give very credible performances, particularly when they’re arguing among themselves knowing they’re all in a desperate situation.

The film can be divided into two parts. The first part happens on the ship when the pirates get on board and commandeer the ship with the captain held at gunpoint while trying this best to protect his crew. The harrowing second half is set inside the cramp and claustrophobic orange life boat after Phillips is taken hostage while the U.S. Navy is trying to rescue him. Greengrass fully focuses on these and there are no deviations showing worried family members watching the news to follow what’s happening to their loved ones on the high seas.

We won’t be surprised if Tom Hanks (who has won the Oscar twice for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump”) would get another nomination for his compelling title role performance here. He is so affecting, especially in the final sequence while he is being examined by a doctor and he looks so confused and disoriented.

Barkhad Abdi as Muse, the frightfully thin head pirate who’s a former fisherman, also gives an exceptional acting debut. At first, you’d wonder how a small boat with four undernourished looking men could pose any real danger to the able-bodied crew members of a much bigger ship. But Muse makes it clear that they attack cargo ships not for politics or terrorism but only for money since they come from a poverty stricken Third World country whose waters have been exploited and are now depleted due to illegal fishing. He even dreams of going to America someday. Somehow, you get to sympathize with him.

The film’s nerve-wracking climax can be quite draining. Well crafted and well acted, it’s docudrama at its best. As an interesting sidelight, the actual orange lifeboat where Captain Phillips was held hostage is now on exhibit at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.