Take the Gripping Ride with ‘Captain Phillips’

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            Wow. That’s the only way I know how to begin this review of “Captain Phillips”. This movie left me speechless and shaking. And I will now attempt to do the film justice and explain why.

In his best performance since 2001’s “Castaway”, Tom Hanks portrays Captain Richard Phillips, the head of a U.S. cargo ship. Based on the true story from 2009, Phillips must survive when his ship is hijacked by Somali pirates off the African coast. Paul Greengrass directs.

Never before have I experienced a film with such relentless intensity. From the moment the pirates are spotted on the horizon to the film’s final seconds, my heart was racing and I did not have a clue what was going to happen next. If you don’t know the true story and how it ends, let me do you an immense favor and tell you to not do any research. It only will make the film that much better.

Hanks is the film’s anchor (boat pun) and is an obvious scene-stealer. When his ship is taken hostage, Phillips tries to keep a calm demeanor, however once he himself is taken prisoner by the pirates he realizes he is in a fight for his life. Hanks is simply on his A-game and when Tom Hanks is on his A-game there are few better.

Not to be outdone is newcomer Barkhad Abdi, who plays the leader of the pirates. While at first we think he is just a greedy criminal driven by money, we learn his motives and we almost sympathize with him and his crew. Abdi keeps a haunting calmness throughout the whole film which makes his role as the antagonist all the more impressive.

Paul Greengrass, known for “The Bourne Ultimatum”, is masterful here. While at first many of his shots are a bit too close to the actors’ faces, once the action picks up the direction becomes nothing short of wonderful. He creates such tension with his cuts and camera angles and when Hanks and the pirates are in a small lifeboat you, too, feel trapped and helpless.

In previous weeks I have ranted about how intense “Prisoners” and “Gravity” are. Those two films had several incredibly tense moments. I kid you not when I say every scene, every shot, of “Captain Phillips” is so intense it is almost too much. I was on the edge of my seat for near the whole movie and the ending to the film put a lump in my throat and sweat in my palms. It is honestly that good.

If you know me, you know I am sometimes an overly harsh critic. I somehow find flaws in every movie. Well aside from a slow start (literally ten minutes, so it’s nothing) “Captain Phillips” is flawless. Incredible direction, great performances by the two leads and an emotionally exhausting climax that will be remembered for years to come, “Captain Phillips” is by and far the best film of this year…and quite possibly the best film of this young decade.

Critics Rating: 10/10

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