Captain Phillips (2013)

Barkhad Abdi, Tom Hanks and Faysal Ahmed in Captain Phillips (2013)

Captain Phillips approaches greatness. Tom Hanks has received as much praise as criticism for his work in the film as the eponymous captain, taken hostage after an aborted pirate raid on his commercial shipping vessel, with critics acclaiming the last few minutes of the film and deriding earlier scenes. I was actually impressed at how everyday Hanks seemed in the role – an ordinary man who goes through the ringer and emerges as that same ordinary man, utterly traumatized.

Barkhad Abdi is superb, glowing with a young, hungry energy that will either launch him to stardom or at least as a go-to bad guy in action films. And Greengrass’s direction has never been better; I haven’t been entirely sold on his bring-a-sick-bag shaky-cam in the past, but it’s restrained and perfectly judged here.

In the end, Captain Phillips is simply good. What kept it from true greatness for me was, more than anything, its length. It’s an impossibly tense film, but after a while – especially in an extended final act – the tension is drawn out for too long, transforming into tedium. A tighter cut of the film, reducing the repetition of the climactic standoff, and perhaps you have something genuinely great.

3 stars

7 thoughts on “Captain Phillips (2013)

  1. Great review, Dave. And mostly agreed. I think. Hanks is brilliant throughout, and oh my god wow later. But I also think the film winds up being good, not great … The second half isn’t as good as the first half, in my opinion.

  2. Definitely the best thriller of last year. It never let me go and had me continuously guessing, even if I did already know how it ended. That’s when you know you have a wonderful thriller on your hands. Good review Dave.

    • I don’t know, I think Hanks’ performance was better than Bale’s in American Hustle but I’m not necessarily surprised it missed out. It’s good but not in a particularly showy way, final minutes aside. It’s the kind of lived-in performance that the Academy rarely rewards.

  3. Pingback: A Hijacking (2012) | ccpopculture

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