Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

October 17, 2013

Hanks, Greengrass winning combination with 'Captain Phillips'

By Ryan Maddux and Andy Stuckey Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — This week we are taking a look at the dramatic thriller Captain Phillips (PG-13).

Based on the contemporary true story, Captain Phillips depicts the harrowing events of Somalian pirates kidnapping a United States cargo ship and the attempted dramatic military rescue of its captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks). Paul Greengrass directs.

Ryan: Captain Phillips continues the current trend in Hollywood of making movies based on very recent events. But unlike say Zero Dark Thirty or The Social Network, Captain Phillips is a notch below some of its contemporaries. Captain Phillips is still a good movie with some stellar scenes, but it’s repetitive and far too long. A shorter running time would have made for a tighter and more thrilling film. I admire the ambition of Greengrass and company, but overall the film, while noteworthy, comes across as a satisfying movie not a great movie.

Andy: Captain Phillips gets off to a bit of a clunky start, with some very heavy-handed exposition. At the beginning, Hanks’s Phillips is ranting about how hard it is to make it in America today with the amount of education needed and the competition to get jobs. This is directly juxtaposed with a scene of a Somali village in which warlords are forcing people into the sea to commit acts of piracy. The attempt to show both sides of the story is admirable, but both scenes come across as superficial and forced. It is not until that action picks up later on that the movie really hits its stride.

Ryan: Clearly one of the strengths of the film is Tom Hanks. But more to the point it’s seeing Hanks in an urgent modern movie. I don’t mean modern in terms of the film’s present-day story but I mean modern in terms of the film-making techniques. Greengrass is technically skilled in the shaky camera, rapid cuts, and hyper editing that has come to define much of modern day cinema—especially with regard to thrillers and action movies. This combination of Hanks and Greengrass does for the most part create a thrilling ride. While some of the scenes in the film are monotonous there’s no question that the climax and last scene in the film are some of the most intense and memorable scenes of the year.

Andy: The performance Hanks gives here is one of his best in recent memory, particularly in the last 30 minutes of the film. But Hanks’s stoicism and resolve would not work without compelling and nuanced performances by his four Somali counterparts, led by Barkhad Abdi. It would have been easy to present the pirates as simple criminals with simple motives, but Greengrass goes for a more realistic approach. Abdi is able to communicate a complexity and humanity that is impressive for a character with so few lines and such dark motives.

Captain Phillips is an entertaining action flick that portrays a compelling story from recent history.

Despite some slow spots, it earns a strong B.