Johnny Depp has forever made pirates whimsical and endearing characters. But what is interesting is that these thieves and rebels are for from safe. Nowhere is that more important in director Paul Greengrass’s latest film. Stripped of all clichés and caricatures, he presents the true story of Somali pirates.
Tom Hanks stars as the title role in “Captain Phillips.” With the exception of breaking in his new crew, Captain Rich Phillips is manning fairly uneventful cargo ship as it transports freight in Africa. Shortly after the trip commences however, a group of Somali men attempt to commandeer the ship. After a couple of failed attempts, the men are successful in taking it over. Realizing what’s at risk, Phillips does everything he can to minimize casualties while getting the unwanted boarders off his ship.
The film is very much focused on the intense situation Phillips finds himself in. Though it has its share of action, the strength of the story lies in the psychological play Phillips and his captors put him through. This is the type of role Tom Hanks is made for, a lovable, relatable everyman in an extraordinary situation. Though Hanks has done a wide range of roles, it feels like a homecoming to see him back in his wheelhouse.
Directed by Paul Greengrass, the film is drenched in his nauseating immediate and voyeuristic camera style. Like his previous fare, the camera never sits still, which can make a stomach empty. Despite his heavy use of steadicam, the film is still technically sound and entertaining. The film slowly builds to a climax that isn’t truly felt until Hanks’s final scene. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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