Captain Phillips Movie Review

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By Craig Thornton

Captain Phillips Movie Review

This well done thriller is made even more thrilling because it is based on the true story of the 2009 hijacking of the Maresk Alabama. Tom Hanks (snubbed by Oscar votes) plays the stalwart Captain Phillips, a New England father who provides handsomely for his family, despite the dangerous conditions of his job. Perhaps he should have been farther off the coast as he was warned, but hugging the coast of Somalia made the journey go faster and therefore more economically efficient.

What originally was eight Somali pirates in two boats becomes four pirates in one boat after the first attack is thwarted by Phillips and his crew. The second skiff with four Somali pirates manages to board the ship, and Muse, (oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi) formerly berated as "skinny' develops into the pirates captain; when he displays courage, coolness and brains under pressure.

Director Paul Greengrass (also snubbed) is a master of authenticity and tension.  As the situation grows more dangerous and desperate the film becomes more claustrophobic.  A terrifying chaos settles in and it is clear that the desperate hijackers are in way over their heads and so desperate that the slightest incident or bad decision could get everyone killed.

As a thriller action film, Captain Phillips moves like lightening and works like a well oiled machine.  There is a tightness and rythm that maximizes the life and death situation and energizes the entire film.  Hanks, as always is very good, and is perfectly cast as the unassuming everyman's hero.  He manages to possess the vulnerability of Jimmy Stewart with the strength of Gary Cooper.  He is especially effective in the last third.  Of course newcomer Barkhad Abdi's performance is getting a lot of attention and his Cinderella story as he goes from limo driver to Oscar nominee for his film debut gives resonance to his already very good performance.

This glitch-free compelling film is an entirely satisfying experience-even if it didn’t win the best picture Oscar.

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Friday, November 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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