Film Review: “Captain Phillips” (2013)

A more or less docu-dramatic reenactment of the daring rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in 2009. An intricate and precisely modulated thriller that’s…..(pause for effect, Pawn Stars style….AUTHENTIC! (Smiles all around).

The film is extremely well done on every level. Hanks channels Daniel Day-Lewis in an intense and convincing performance. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi, said to have been recruited from a large Somali population in of all places Minnesota, is brutally magnificent. He has no acting experience, picked out of 700 applicants from a cold casting call, but he masters the role of the antagonist in a masterful fashion.

The film takes pains to show the Somali’s incentive for piracy without excusing it. Abdi’s native astuteness counters all the defense mechanisms of the ship’s captain. He is at once terrifying but heartachingly human. This is a truly masterful performance from his heart, not theatrical training.

THe real white knuckle portion of the trip begins with the arrival of the seal team, heeded by cold blooded team leader Max Martini, who icily demands “Gentlemen, I need three green screens”, following which an incredible rescue takes place that could never have been dreamed up. Well done, Gentlemen.

Parenthetically, it seems that the speed and complexity of society have bred equally complex dangers to us and we are very effectively training a class of super warriors capable of rescuing us from increasingly composite dangers. Viz: “Zero Dark Thirty” (2013).

Best features: Clearly Barkhad Abdi. He upstaged Tom Hanks at every scene. Seal team leader Max Martini. The ultimate fixer, ice water running through is veins while toying with the pirates. You can’t take your eyes off him.

Not so best features: Jiggly, extreme closeups don’t work well, tend to cause viewer vertigo.

I give it 4.5 of 5 wild eyed AK-47 wielding pirates. Must see.


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