Captain Phillips

Disclaimer: I was in the Navy when the events of the movie was underway, and was also involved in parts of the ops planning. 

Paul Greengrass has again demonstrated that he is the premiere director for handheld camera action sequences especially in tight frames/spaces. However beyond the action-packed First and Third Act, Greengrass shortcoming has a dramatic director shows in the slow, plodding Second Act. Screenwriter Billy Ray is also partially to be blamed for he gave no added dimensions to Tom Hanks' eponymous protagonist. For viewers who followed the real life events, we would know what happened to Captain Phillips in the end, so how do you engage these people who knows what your hero's fate is? Despite having a stellar actor like Hanks who can still command a screen, the material left him with barely anything much to work with. The faint and clumsy attempts to inject familial ties and emotions in the Third Act just felt cheap and appeared like vainglorious attempts for Hanks to Oscar-bait. Luckily, Ray gave us a more interesting antagonist, and perhaps it is also because we know less about him, and that made him and his choices engaging: will he turn? Will he kill anybody? What are his motivations? A pity not more was done to explore this aspect. All the other bad guys were stock one-dimensional characters, as were the good guys that were not Tom Hanks. As aforementioned, Greengrass directed the action sequences amazingly well. The First Act Pirate attack was tight, exciting, by-your-seat adrenaline pumping, that was only topped by the intense final Rescue sequence. Those bits could have made the movie worth it if not for the Second Act which just plodded on way too long with almost nothing happening. The music by Henry Jackman was adequate and as necessary as it needed to be, but not memorable. After his previous work on "X-Men: First Class", "Kick Ass" and "Kick Ass 2", I am beginning to see a trend, which then makes his next work for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" very worrying. Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd shot the film in a highly naturalistic way with a lot of his scenes dependent on natural lighting (or absence of, especially in the Third Act). Lastly, that whole final scene was such a joke, such a blatant attempt for more Oscar-baiting for Hanks (come on! which medical officer will actually do all that first at triage??).


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