Simple story amazingly depicted!
Based on Captain Richard Phillips’ book, “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” and directed by Paul Greengrass, the film is a no-brainer if one looks at it from the outside. Everyone knows that good will triumphs over evil and the captain will live to tell the tale since it is he who pens his story. Yet, what is surprisingly is the fact that the audience doesn’t believe in anything except what is being shown on the screen, such is the engrossing power of the direction, narrative and acting combined. Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘bomb under the table’ theory (in which he suggests that the explosion in the end is not ‘suspense’, it is the lingering absence of the expected outcome that is) fails in this scenario and that’s what makes this movie work.
Tom Hanks has never been this good (or has he?)
Most of us will agree that Tom Hanks is one of the best actors around. In this flick, he really gets under the skin of the titular character and comes up with yet another award-winning performance. Even those who aren’t all that impressed with his acting would be forced to change their opinion in his last scene in the film, in which (after being rescued) he shows emotions of a man who has been saved from certain death, displays the courage of a person who always believed he would come out safe, depicts the anguish of a kidnapped individual – all rolled into one. I, for one, have not seen such a brilliant performance by anyone in the last few years and wanted to shake hand with the great man for what I consider ‘perfect acting.’
Some believe that history was twisted by the author who tried to portray himself as a hero when he shouldn’t have sailed in troubled waters in the first place. But all these misgivings about Captain Phillips dissipate when Tom Hanks renders the character, able as he is to bring out the best in every character. The movie at times may seem slow, but when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Supporting cast superbly anchors the movie!
The other notable actor who gets a lot of screen time in the movie is debutant Barkhad Abdi – a Somali-American playing Abdulwali Muse, the Somali pirate, to perfection. You hate him the moment he sets his eyes on Maersk Alabama for he uses all his cunning ideas to capture the cargo ship and go back as a millionaire. His deplorable upbringing is shown as the reason why he is hell bent on going back with something rather than leaving empty handed. It would be a surprise if he is not nominated for any award because it was his acting that kept the ship sailing, besides Tom Hanks, who has been there and done that twice (winning back-to-back Oscar for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump!)
And then there is Max Martini! A film featuring Navy SEALS is never complete without an actor who looks more like a ‘SEAL advertisement’ than anything else. He was there as the savior of the world in Pacific Rim, acted alongside Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan (way back in 1998), was part of TV shows like The Unit (yeah, related to the Army!) and recently appeared in Criminal Minds as a Navy SEAL, a role he also performed in Hawaii Five-O a few years back! In fact I was hoping that he would also be there in this movie, and voila, there he was as the person who initiates the rescue and sees it through.
Watch it before it has set sail!
There are a lot of films in the cinema these days, and there is a lot of demand for commercially viable ones. That’s one of the reasons that by the time you read this review, Captain Phillips may be as good as gone from cinemas near you. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth watching. It remains one of the most magnificently acted, brilliantly depicted and commercially successful flicks to be released this year. Ahoy!
Omair Alavi works for Geo TV and can be contacted at [email protected]