Thursday 14 November 2013

Film Review: Captain Phillips

Boarded by pirates off the Somali coast, Captain Richard Phillips must do all he can to protect the his crew and cargo; based on a gripping true story, this pulse-pounding thriller directed by Paul Greengrass is one of the most engaging films you'll see this year. Oscars ahoy!

Starring Tom Hanks as the titular character, Captain Phillips is blessed with one of the strongest lead performances of 2013. Hanks is fantastic, potentially giving best performance of his career. It's
emotional and weighty but not over-acted; the power of Hanks' assured performance lies in the subtleties.

I really enjoyed the balanced characterisation that Greengrass affords Hanks' and the Somali pirates that threaten his crew; in particular, the pirate captain, Muse (played by first-time actor Barkhad Abdi) is provided with a hefty back-story and motivation.

The film doesn't revolve around Phillips, despite the title. Instead, Greengrass chooses to focus on the morality and ethics behind the two sides, showing how the pirates aren't there to simply wreak havoc. There is a lot more depth and 'grey area' to it than that.

The Somali pirates are also really well acted, Barkhad Abdi in particular giving a powerful performance. Like I said, they aren't made out to be the America-hating, cookie-cutter villains that are solely driven by a love for terrorism that you typically find in thrillers like this.

The rest of the cast are just there to make up the numbers really; Greengrass regular Corey Johnson and Max Martini are familiar faces amongst Hanks' crew but the central focus here is on the hostage relationship between Hanks and Abdi.

Greengrass' direction is effective in forging some of the most gripping tension, especially in the final thirty minutes. The stand-off between the pirates and the US Navy is a little slow to get going but things soon reach fever pitch. The run-time is just over two hours; in my opinion, I thought that around 15 minutes could have been shaved off here and there.

Also, I liked that Greengrass kept the score minimal, with the music only really kicking in when things get tense later on.

The Verdict: 8/10

Captain Phillips is a well-acted, directed and written thriller that doesn't bask in clich├ęd patriotism and political agendas. Hanks is the star of the show, delivering a fantastic performance just in time for awards season. If you're tired of cape-clad superheroes and  looking for something to keep you keep you hooked, step aboard. 


  1. Spot on review, man. Definitely enjoyed this one a lot. :)

    1. Thanks man! It's a fairly late review but I'm glad I caught this film nonetheless!



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