Recently, there have been films, based on actual people, cosmic events, that have been controversial, challenged because of their supposed inaccuracies or flawed “hair-raising” technicalities: “The Butler”, “Gravity” and now “Captain Phillips”. Unless billed as a documentary, I gift “poetic license” to the filmmakers. These films are stunning, immensely entertaining and worthy of their embellishments or lack thereof.
Once again, venerable Tom Hanks gives a herculean performance as Captain Rich Phillips; he’s “everyman”; the guy next door who picks up your mail and newspapers when you’re not around; he’s the “designated” driver; constant, loving husband and father; a man whose life would have remained in comfortable anonymity if his cargo ship, “Maersk Alabama” had not been pirated off the coast of Somalia, in 2009.
“Captain Phillips” awe-inspiring, flawlessly directed by Paul Greengrass is a paradigm of fortitude, courage, cunning intelligence, when blasted with cataclysmic odds. Armed solely with hoses, the ship is inevitably boarded by four pirates; these riffle-toting, option- less , cadaverous men are the core of the film; it is the explosive, potentially incendiary dual between the pirates and the crew, especially Phillips, that is pulsating, brilliantly riveting. “Skinny” (remarkable performance by first time actor Barkhad Adbi) their “Captain”, claims that it is Western interests and proprietary encroachments that have raped Somalia of its natural resources, driving him, a simple fishermen, to pirating. Two men, disparate worlds; exponentially garnishing empathy resulting in a compelling contest between ideologies; grey areas, pivotally key in propelling the exigent conclusion.
Mark Twain said “courage is the resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not the absence of fear”; Captain Phillips, crew, and all the antagonists, share in the badge.
FOUR &1/2 STARS!!!!!