Discover more from Feature Presentation
10th Anniversary TLDR: Captain Phillips (2013)
I'm the Captain now.
Plot: The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.
Direction: Paul Greengrass made a couple of these dramatic recreation movies, the kind that Peter Berg paid his bills with for a few years. His best is probably United 93 - which I still can't believe was good - but this is a close second. It's tense, well-paced, clearly researched - he tells the story visually really well.
Screenplay: Screenwriter Billy Ray has had such an interesting career, from Volcano to The Hunger Games to Richard Jewell to The Comey Rule. His work here is strong, but above all, he's an excellent union man. Read his thoughts on the current WGA strike here.
Performances: Sometimes, and I hate to say this, Tom Hanks confuses doing a voice with acting. You know what I'm talking about. That's more or less true of the first two hours of this movie, but his infamous crying scene in the film's final moments might be some of the best stuff in his entire career. It's a toss-up. The real standout is, of course, Barkhad Abdi. Yes, he played another Somali pirate in...The Pirates of Somalia. Not kidding!
Cinematography: Barry Ackroyd and Greengrass are a great pairing because they love their handheld cameras. He follows the action well, which can't be easy when you're at sea. It seems like a logistical nightmare.
Best moment: For meme purposes? "I'm the Captain now." In truth? Hanks at the end, as mentioned.
Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, the real-life event "was the first successful pirate seizure of a ship registered under the U.S. flag since the early 19th century." Huh!
Imaginary accolade: Worst PR Move for Pirates Since Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Everything is too long. Is it too long? Did it NEED to be two hours and fifteen minutes? Probably not.
Rating: It holds up.
Credit: Plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
Thanks for reading Feature Presentation! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.