Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Captain Phillips--Movie Review

 Photo: Movie poster, from its Wikipedia page.

This is a very well-acted and -directed film that maintains its tension even though you know how it's going to end.  (It's based on the main character's book, after all.)

Paul Greengrass, director of United 93, a couple of Bourne movies, and other good films, uses his favorite shots--grainy, documentary-like, hand-held, and jittery--and scenes of routine and family to good effect.  He does not direct to excess, as many good, flashy directors often do, nor does he waste any shots or use rapid-fire direction that overwhelms.  Spotless directing here from one of the best directors nobody knows.

Tom Hanks gives another outstanding performance--again, especially considering that we know how it's all going to end.  He's great as the family man who's also the absolute professional.  When thrown into tense and violent situations, he doesn't allow his acting to get hysterical or cliche.  It's a very authentic performance.

The actors who play the Somali pirates are also very, very good, especially the leader of the group, who comes across as desperate, yet professional and often intelligent and wise.  He's needy enough to follow through despite obviously tremendous odds against him, yet he's not self-reflective enough to wonder why his last haul--which netted millions--still did not change his destitute, starving life.  He says he's a fisherman, and that the U.S. has depleted the fish supply in the ocean waters near his home, but the viewer knows there's more to it than that--and we know that he knows it, too.  But his character refuses to mentally go there, anyway.

Though at least 95% of the film takes place aboard a ship and a tiny escape vessel, the action still has grandeur and scope--not to mention vast oceans, attack helicopters and destroyers--but the movie never loses its intense focus.

It's gripping and tense, well-acted and well-directed, and a movie worth paying for and watching.

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