For over two hundred years an American cargo ship had never been hijacked; in 2009, that all changed. From the director of The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, and United 93 comes another exhilarating film that is daring and realistic as it looks into the true story of the hijacking of a cargo ship captained by Richard Phillips. Although the outcome is already known, this being a true event in history, the journey that Captain Phillips endured is the most captivating aspect of this story. The entire event lasted less than two full days, but what transpired in a matter of about thirty-six hours was truly harrowing. It’s amazing that more life was not lost, which is a testament to the brave men and women that serve in our military.
When the director, Paul Greengrass, created United 93 it was very apparent that he had an eye for detail and passion for getting the facts right. While certainly some details of that film were exaggerated or altered, as is any film based on true events, it was unquestionably honest and raw in its portrayal of such a tragic moment in history. After viewing Captain Phillips it is obvious that Greengrass’ dedication to getting it right has not wavered even a little. I checked certain details of the real story and, for the most part, everything depicted in this film that could be fact checked is accurate. I’m sure moments that no one else was present at other than Phillips himself were the most embellished moments of this film, which I think is understandable. Facts are great, but a thrill needs to be thrown in and with this film the entire story is electrifying. There are very few dull moments in this, there isn’t time for that and Greengrass certainly brings the sense of urgency.
Special attention must be given to Tom Hanks for his heart wrenching interpretation of the real life Captain Phillips. Hanks is definitely no stranger to carrying a film, just look at his amazing performance in Castaway. Now that’s not to say that his is the only worthwhile performance, but he is the highlight of the film. Another wonderful character is brought to the screen by Barkhad Abdi, who with this film turns in his first ever performance in a motion picture. It is his encounter with Hanks’ character that makes this one to remember. They each bring so much to “table” and it’s mesmerizing to watch. Hanks plays a man forced into a terrifying situation and he does the role so much justice, especially in a specific scene near the end of the film, he makes you want to cry. His performance is raw, human, sad, brave, and most definitely award worthy. As for Barkhad Abdi, it is remarkable that this is his first film ever. He seems like a seasoned actor and I look forward to seeing him in more films in the future.
In April, 2009, Somali pirates boarded an American cargo ship with the intention of taking the ship’s inhabitants hostage for a large sum of cash. Muse, the lead pirate says repeatedly that things will be okay. As the situation progressively gets worse, it’s pretty apparent that things will not be okay. Captain Phillips takes his duty to the ship and the workers aboard it very seriously. When a group of pirates board his ship his first act is to protect his crew; even as his own life is threatened he never gives up his crew. When a turn of events takes place for the pirates they are forced off the ship in hopes of lessening the consequences of what they have done. But in a moment of betrayal, the pirates did what pirates do; they take Captain Phillips hostage as they escape from the newly armed crew in a lifeboat that’s on the ship. As scary as it was, this is when the real nightmare begins. Four armed Somali pirates holding a man hostage as the Navy attempts to rescue him. They are stuffed into a tiny lifeboat with hardly any visibility from the outside world and their patience lessens by the minute. Every moment they become more unstable and his life becomes less and less valuable to them. Time is of the essence.
What more can I really say other than this is one film you should definitely see. Regardless of how much you may know about the story, this takes your attention and doesn’t let go until the end credits begin. It is nerve-racking at times, heart breaking in others; I can also add that this is not a humorous movie at all. It is relentless in its earnestness and you feel it every step of the way. This is what a thriller looks like and I for one think this is one of the best films of the year.
Rated PG-13 For: sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
Run Time: 134 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener, Max Martini
Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls