Thursday, November 28, 2013

Captain Phillips - A Master and a Commander

Captain Richard Phillips: You said you were a business man! Is this how you do business?

There are some movies that translate real life incidents onto the celluloid in an attempt to rake in the moolah, they “Hollywoodize” the original story by adding a lot of drama and over the top action sequences in order to connect with the audience with the premise remaining the same: ordinary men under extraordinary circumstances who come up trumps when faced with adversity. Eventually the final product ends up looking cheesy. Paul Greengrass’ latest offering Captain Phillips is a story of courage and determination where the titular character played by the ever-so-brilliant Tom Hanks is faced against Somali pirates. While there have been other action films inspired by real life that have fallen flat in keeping the audience engaged while playing to the galleries, Captain Phillips keeps the viewers emotionally involved because it brings two different worlds together in the form of their lead characters, Richard Phillips an Everyman with wife and kids from the global superpower America, and the ruthless pirate Muse from Somalia, a country torn by strife. Two men with vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds, but with one common objective : Survival.

Adapted from the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" written by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty, the film is inspired by the real life hostage situation of the Maersk Alabama hijacking. Like any other Paul Greengrass film, the movie is filmed in the trademark shaky camera that throws the viewers right into the action. Paul Greengrass has always been known to direct edge-of-the seat action sequences, The Bourne series is a testament to that, the action scenes in Captain Phillips are no less thrilling than his other films, at times they are even better. Captain Phillips isn’t just an action movie shot like a docudrama, what it also strives to be is a social commentary on the two lead characters who are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, there are bad guys doing bad things, but what Greengrass also shows us is why they  are forced to do it.

Tom Hanks is aptly cast as Richard Phillips, a bespectacled Joe Schmo who is the captain of a cargo ship cruising through calm seas one moment and ends up facing the working end of a gun in the next, Hanks’ likeability is what makes us root for him to stay alive, and as usual he plays the role of a hapless hostage with much conviction. While it is no easy task to outdo a two-time Academy Award winner like Hanks, Barkhad Abdi as the pirate leader Muse does it with menacing ease, Muse is a rebel with a cause, he is forced to wield a gun because circumstances make him do it.

While there have been other big budget movies that have come and gone this year lacking in some way or the other, Captain Phillips is a smartly made thriller which is the complete package of action and drama that will keep you engrossed.

No comments: