Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Captain Phillips" (2013) - Movie Review

Paul Greengrass can shorten the span of a long, progressive and nasty violent situation into short span of time without compromising the gravity of it. He can simultaneously provide the real time action in the utmost gritty realism it would have happened. The Bourne series are an example of former while “United 93” would be the latter. In “Captain Phillips” he picks up the pieces from both and provides an intense thriller. In all sense, if you retell the story by every minute and second, one can say that for majority of the part nothing is happening other than waiting on the next move but the tension of each of those is heightened by the not so known supporting crew with the able lead of Tom Hanks in the titular role.

The authenticity of story telling drawn upon from the account of a person is always a challenge to be precise. It is hard to come clean and claim victories over whole account of it. One can only hope that it captures the essence of it and not completely falter. I think I feel obligated to take a stand on what the film’s accuracy states. I am sure people can throw darts at it till the end of day. Hence any film that takes a stab at the retelling of true story can never satiate everyone. What is important as a film, is that whether it achieves the purpose it started out to and in that “Captain Phillips” almost succeeds.

If it was any other director approaching this story as thriller it sets out to be, they would waste no time in formalities and directly focus on the action. There will be convenient dropping of the cheesy relationships within the crew and with the Captain followed by several campy sacrifices Hollywood generally makes a mockery of. This is Paul Greengrass and even when he provides a tiny slit of view towards this man’s personal life, it is the apt amount set to tell just enough for the purpose of the film. When we see Phillips driving to airport with his wife (Catherine Keener), there is a relationship very strongly established even in the most mundane talks. The usual worries of working away and the couple stepping into empty nest phase. Similar take is done on the Somali pirates as they are demanded to head back to sea by their warlords. In that is Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) and he is driven but unguided. He recruits people and has a bad rapport with his colleague. That does not play much but the analogy of these two primary characters in the film is intriguing.

One thing is quite certain about the film is that we see Captain Phillips on his complete entirety through this crisis. He is as any boss not a popular guy amongst crew. He enforces the regular drills and moves on as any other day. I liked the way screenplay maneuvered through that. Greengrass does not boast the enormity of this ship’s journey. The ship Alabama embarks from its port in Oman like any other day. No grand importance is given on the system’s enormity but a regular feat. We see the monstrosity of this being but are only impressed by that than no aid by the director to make it a grandeur start.

It is Tom Hanks Vs the new comer Barkhad Abdi through the course of the film. They consistently dance around the possibility of some kind of relationship beginning to formulate between their characters but always fall short of it as it would have in the real life. What I was little let down is some kind of backstory between the two by their own words which happens very minimally without having any solid moments to see the nature of survival between them. Muse is showed ruthless but also sympathetic. He is a mercenary but there is a layer more to him which does not come off fully. While it seem like a fair move to keep the film purely on the situation than anything else, we are left with a tiny void.

“Captain Phillips” is a pure adrenaline thrill and Tom Hanks shoulders the role as usual making it look easy. The best performance of him comes in after the fact of the chaos than during it. That tells what kind of a performance actor Hanks is and how easily he fools us into thinking that he plays himself in a way. The emotional punch line for the film does not happen till that moment and when it does it emotes the pure and unadulterated truth about this entire story. That is where Paul Greengrass differentiates with thumping confidence amongst the other directors of this genre. He knows when to take the emotional part of a character out of the film and put in its purest form when needed. “Captain Phillips” is not a complete winner but it is one of the better films out there.


Joƫlle d'Antin said...

I wanted to see it this weekend and did not make it... Now it's definitely on my to-do list for this week! :)

Ashok said...

Cool beans Joelle! Did you see "Gravity"? If you have not, that should be on top of your list.

Igor Buller said...

And don't forget Rush. Yes, I'm Rush lover (not to be confused with the band)