Movie Review: Captain Phillips [2013]

Movies based on true events have one big shortcoming - you know the end and predictability is probably one of the worst things in film. But sometimes even these kind of works are so brilliant that you forget everything you know and just marvel.

Paul Greengrass - an Oscar nominee director of United 93 - brings another epic heroic story of Captain Richard Phillips, captain of US-flagged Maersk Alabama, hijacked by pirates in 2009, who saved his plot putting himself in inconceivable danger.

Captain Phillips is a two-hour long movie, which takes place either on Maersk Alabama or lifeboat of Maersk Alabama. So, if you are not prepared to watch the same sets from different camera angles for such a long time, you better get prepared, otherwise you are going to miss the one of the greatest action movies, one can ever see. If you have seen United 93, just imagine a movie with more action, better cast and technical perfection - that is Captain Phillips.

Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) is an ordinary guy. First scenes very carefully explore his personal life, his attitude towards kids, wife and their future. When we first meet Hanks's character you don't think of him as a hero risking his own safety for sake of others. Having minimum information about him as a person, a citizen of United States, story quickly moves to ship, exploring Rich as captain - as if personal lives do not matter when it comes down to being a hero, as if everybody is capable of it, despite your background.

Very shortly after the vessel goes to open ocean, they are chased by two motor boats nearby Somali coast. For the first time, Phillips and his crew successfully deliverance from pirates, but one of them comes back the next day and this is where it begins.

Even before release, actually quite early, Tom's performance was a lot anticipated and considered to be great, maybe because it's Tom Hanks. But having watched the movie, I am now sure that it is Tom Hanks and he is great in it. He is absolutely brilliant in every sense he has ever been. Hanks has this frankness of emotions, as if he felt whole terror, despair and fear real Richard experienced back in 2009 and delivery all these human emotions was magnificent. I've been told that last 10 minutes will just blow my mind, that last 10 minutes can bring Hanks another glory and yes, last 10 minutes are amazing enough for third Oscar. But it is not only about the end. Tom is equally superb in every scene of Captain Phillips and he deserves all the credits he gets for it.

Barkhad Abdi's performance as a Muse - chief of pirates and a "new Captain" was praised by almost everybody. I liked him, quite impressive performance for the first time, but not as outstanding as it is told and definitely not good enough for brilliant award season. To my mind, his character lacks this depth and emotional scenes. Despite being a terrifying, he just does not bring much to the screen. So is rest of the cast, they all are just OK, good enough to support Tom Hanks.

But Paul Greengrass possibly did the best job making such an epic action movie, that just nails you in your chair for quite long hours. Shaky camera brings that feeling of endless action and nerve wrecking suspense that something will definitely go wrong. Cinematography is great, shooting a movie in a very limited space of lifeboat requires precise shots and a wise camera angles. Generally Paul's movies are well edited and so is Captain Phillips - film editing and sounds are great, just exactly what's needed for a good action movie to make all these emotions more real and terrifying.

Also, Billy Ray's adaptation is quite impressive, because movie has some good dialogues, very intense plot and twists. It is as much unpredictable as possible for true story film and we obviously see character developments from the beginning to the end.

All in all, Captain Phillips is this years one of the best films.

Oscar Chances? It's a Best Picture and Best Actor shoo-in for me, also Film Editing, Cinematography, Directing and Sounds are its strong nominations, I'd not count Abdi in supporting actor list, but it is possible that academy loves him, because they generally love new-comers and bad boys. Henry Jackman's score also worked for me and if AMPAS love the movie itself, he can get a respective credit too. I thinks that Tom Hanks has now best chances to claim his third Oscar, despite very harsh competition from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey.

See my Oscar Predictions here.

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