Film of the Day (02/16/19): Captain Phillips


Written By Billy Ray
Directed By Paul Greengrass

How has this movie sat on my list for so many years? I’ve always liked Tom Hanks and have yet to see a bad film from Paul Greengrass, so really, I have no excuse. I really liked this, as Greengrass is a master of realistic tension, especially when the story is taken from a real life scenario (much as he showed in 2018 with 22 July). The film doesn’t spend much time on exposition, as it doesn’t take long for the danger to unfold and place you right in the middle of the action. Greengrass once again makes heavy use of the handicam technique, which really enhances the feelings of chaos and confusion that the sailors must have felt. The editing is slick and fast-paced, the sound design is great, and the cinematography does well to contrast the vastness of the open ocean to the confined spaces of the ship being raided and the lifeboat trying to smuggle Phillips back to Somalia. While supporting actor Barkhad Abdi does a wonderful job (in his debut, no less, earning Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations), this is largely a vehicle for Tom Hanks, and he puts  his range on display. His Phillips keeps a cool head under intense pressure, until he is finally allowed to let the emotional weight drop in the final scenes, and rhe results are impressive. This is a damn good film I’m glad to finally have seen, and I dukly understand the praise it received.

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