Friday, November 01, 2013

Captain Philips

Tonight I saw Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi.

Captain Rich Phillips (Hanks) is an east coast merchant marine leading a new crew through the dangerous waters of Africa to deliver cargo. Muse (Abdi) is a Somali pirate that leads a handful of fellow pirates to take over the Captain's ship. Despite the elaborate security measures, Muse succeeds.

After a nerve-wracking chain of events (all happening while the U.S. Navy Seals are getting their ducks in a row to initiate a rescue), the pirates leave the ship and escape on one of its lifeboats with Captain Phillips as their hostage.

What happened over the course of five days in real life is chronicled in just over two hours here, but it's no less harrowing. The Captain talks to them, negotiates the extension of his life and feels compassion for the youngest pirate, who is just a kid. Tempers flare, weapons are drawn and physical fights are commonplace.

What makes Paul Greengrass such a phenomenal director is how real it all feels, though it's not something everyday people will ever truly know. His gift for capturing the sound of desperate breaths, the temperature in a space and the discombobulation of chaos is unique.

All of the performances in this film are first-rate; most notably those of the pirates who weren't even actors before they took on these roles.

I can't imagine this won't get a ripple of well-deserved Oscar nominations.


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