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Captain Phillips the must-see movie of this year

Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

That’s my thumbnail sketch of Captain Phillips.
You come out of that movie emotionally sore.
Is it blasphemy to say you’re not a huge Tom Hanks fan?
He’s the Tea Party’s Denzel Washington. Always earnest, always steady, once in awhile dark. So some of his roles have seemed tedious to me.
Not this one.
Based on the novel by Richard Phillips, it tells the story of the hijacking at sea of an American cargo ship at the hands of Somali pirates.
So first let’s tackle the controversy.

According to the real captain the film is quite accurate. There are some minor liberies taken in the interests of time, although not enough since the film clocks in at 143 minutes. Still it’s worth mentioning that the real controversy is with Phillips. The crew is suing him for putting their lives in jeopardy and that’s where the controversy lands. They feel the film doesn’t represent the carelessness Phillips demonstrated in not staying out from land farther than he did.
For his part Phillips says it’s a meritless case. Well ya.
He also called Hanks a crybaby and said he could take him in a streetfight. So he seems nice.

The film is tight, compelling and an emotional gutcheck.
This is not for the weak of heart.
The film is made great by the interplay between Hanks and Barkhad Abdi who plays Muse the Somali pirate. Muse obviously has a tough life.  Phillips says who tells him ” Look at me. I’m the captain now”.

In another brilliant exchange Hanks says “There’s got to be something other than being a fisherman or kidnapping people and Muse says “Maybe in America Irish”.
It’s a very complex film but at its heart is the relationship between these two men.
There is some great action and of course, any film that involves navy seals killing a bunch of bad guys can be fun but we can’t help but see the other side.

Phillips is seen as a family man who for the most part has had a relatively quiet existence, who is suddenly thrust into a role that’s alien to him. His crew is disjointed and angry and we understand the desperation on his captor’s part.

I really enjoyed all of the elements.
The director deserves a nod for a few elements he brought.
The actors playing the pirates weren’t introduced to each other until they started filming the kidnapping scenes. They were encouraged to improvise.
The whole I’m your captain now was improved by Abdi.
He also cast unknown actors as the seals. He wants that anonymity. It works to great effect I think.

The most dynamic part of the film happens after the climax.
We see Phillips struggling with night terrors and sobbing uncontrollably.
I had a few people say they didn’t cry until the end. They thought the film was over and bang, the emotional climax jumps out from behind the curtain.  Seconds from a clean getaway, to paraphrase Jack.

So there you go Captain Phillips is one of the best films I’ve seen this year.
I could use a little less Blair Witch camera shots in my diet but other than that, yep, pretty darn good.

As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in themail and I’m outta here. Paul.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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