Sunday, November 10, 2013

Movie Review: Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass are a match made in heaven. The most beloved actor/human on the planet commands the audience's attention with another career defining performance (adding to the pile), while the journalist turned adrenaline junkie director sneaks up and hijacks the viewers emotions for the film's entire run time. A dazzling mix of sentiment and suspense that's equal parts entertaining, and exhausting.

Hanks stars as Captain Phillips, the head hancho of a U.S. cargo ship that gets hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The story is based on the true life events of the real Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009, so no spoilers here...just old memories I guess. These ripped from the headlines/biopic films usually go two ways, either they stick to the source material and try to be extra dry and authentic, or head the opposite route and ham everything up with cringe worthy melodrama and get all Lifetime movie of the week on us. Thankfully, Captain Phillips does neither. Like I said before, it strikes a near perfect balance between realism and entertainment.

It seems like director Paul Greengrass does everything in his power to make the viewers knuckles turn white. The first act of the movie rolls through like a conveyer belt, jumping from one quick exposition scene to the next until, holy shit: "We're being invaded!" and then things really go into pants shitting high gear. The second act meanders a bit, what do you expect when you're stuck in a claustrophobic lifeboat on the high seas, but the top notch performances from Hanks and the first time actors cast as the Somali pirates keeps the film intact. Then there's third act, where the U.S. Navy finally gets involved and Hank's performance goes from great (as usual) to "he might just need a third Oscar" level.

I tried putting my own Millennial bias aside while watching Captain Philips but at this point it's almost impossible so I'll just come out and say it: Tom Hanks can do no wrong. For people of my generation, who grew up watching him dance in Big, curse in A League of Their Own and run like the wind in Forrest Gump, he's more than just an actor. He's been an AIDS victim (Philadelphia), an astronaut (Apollo 13), a war hero (Saving Private Ryan) and a Castaway (duh). He's the star of the Playtone galaxy (That Thing You Do) and Andy's favorite companion (Toy Story), the lovable everyman who just so happens to be the highest grossing movie star of all time. I think it's safe to say I've learned more life lessons from Tom Hank's movies than I have from real life "role models." Sometimes, I even read/ hear certain things in his voice. Watching Tom Hanks suffer through the final act of Captain Phillips felt like someone was strangling the embodiment of my childhood before my eyes. It was like the furnace scene in Toy Story 3 all over again. It should go without saying that Hanks is a phenomenal actor and even if his performance in Captain Phillips was lackluster (which it certainly is not), even if the man who won back to back Oscars in 93' & 94' decided to phone it in this time, I would have still been on the verge of tears.

In short, Captain Phillips aka The Tom Hanks show, is one hell of a ride. With Hanks and Greengrass in cahoots, the emotion and suspense levels are off the charts.


  1. It does sound like a pretty damn awesome movie. Tom Hanks really can do no wrong and as someone who doesn't really keep track of what an actor does, it's pretty surprising to realise just how much stuff he's done.

  2. I've heard so many good things about this movie and the trailer is breathtaking!