Captain Phillips gets it going, right from the beginning.
For this film based on true events, I was expecting a lot of buildup before the actual events of piracy on the seas just off Africa would get rolling. Boy, was I pleasantly wrong.
The movie gets moving pretty quickly, and before we know it, Tom Hanks and his crew aboard a transport ship are under siege from four determined Somali pirates, and things have gone horribly wrong. Their ship is boarded, and they have had to deal with one crazy situation.
I hadn’t read much about this film upon its acclaimed release, or in the months since, but I was treated to a very tense, entertaining film. The action is not that of the Michael Bay variety, but provides serious tension throughout the film. Once the Captain is kidnapped, and taken aboard the lifeboat, the film continues to get better, and stronger.
As he almost always is, Tom Hanks is highly capable and watchable as the lead in the film. He exudes a certain calmness as Captain Phillips, even when he has a gun pressed against his temple. He always seems to be in control, and he comes over as an amazing character as the film progresses. Even when the Somalis know that they are done for, and are on the verge of panic while US warships float just off the side of their tiny lifeboat, he is in control. Of himself, and at times, of the pirates.
There is a lot going on in Captain Phillips, and it never ceases to be entertaining and stressful. Not sure how the whole thing was going to wrap up, it was impressive to see the show of strength by the United States in the situation that they were faced with. Dispatching a Navy warship, and aircraft carrier, helicopters, and the highly trained SEAL team, there was no way that they were going to let the small orange boat ever make it to the shores of Somalia, whether the Captain was alive or dead. It always left the conclusion in doubt, as to how the whole thing was going to unfold.
It is increasingly rare for films to be able to hold tension for the majority of its run time, but Captain Phillips does exactly that.
Barkhad Abdi, who plays the lead pirate, is exceptional in his role. He was justly nominated for a supporting Oscar, and won a BAFTA for his portrayal as the Somali fisherman who simply wants some money so that he can survive, but is crushed by his own ego, greed, and desire to obtain some semblance of the American Dream, even by the deplorable means of kidnapping. As his situation becomes more dire, he struggles to control his group of men, and knows that he is facing the longest of odds, but with grim determination, refuses to abandon his hopes of a successful attack on a US ship.
Captain Phillips is a very, very good film, and absolutely worth a watch. The running time flies by, and there are very few moments that will not leave viewers on the edge of their seats, wondering what is going to happen next. Very highly recommended.