Captain Phillips

Joey Krecic `14

British docudrama specialist Paul Greengrass has produced a riveting drama that seems to encompass many new aspects of film making that make’s this film such a masterpiece. Without a doubt it seems that Tom Hanks (as Phillips) outdoes himself again by taking on a new role in which he makes trauma come to life. Hanks rarely misses a beat by submerging his natural exuberance to assume the role of a terse and weary New England-based merchant mariner. Although it seems safe to say that Hanks and Greengrass make this film, they however were not the only ones to embody the thrilling trauma. The pirates, led by their leader Muse, (as Barkhad Abdi) do a exceptional job of portraying the realistic savagery of Somalian abductors.

It is hard to say what makes a film good these days because of all the digital animations and camera technology; it is very unclear to detect what is the source of the success. However, one thing is clear after watching Captain Phillips, and that is camera work is taken to a whole new level, unlike anything I have ever seen. It seems that Paul Greengrass has found the right formula to cultivate such a perfect film just by how he  positions the camera. By perfecting the close up shots, it becomes evident that suspense is not only driven by the actor and how much you pay them. Instead it seems driven by the image in which one is seen. That really is one of the major differences in Greengrass films these days.

Captain Phillips seems to be the perfect Greengrass vehicle, one in which his political concerns (about the cost of globalism and its effect on third world nations) and his love of kinetic set pieces, meld beautifully. Greengrass also displays in this film a great sense of reality in which the abduction seems to come alive by the intense sequence of action and the stark lack of music. Most films use music to create suspense, but here amplifies the natural sounds to make the scene more realistic. It gives the viewer a chance to think about how Hanks might get out of his predicament.  This detail may seem very small in the long run. But after watching closely one will come to see that omitting the lack of music is what keeps the viewer on the edge of his/her seat. Greengrass has truly produced a film that has changed modern films.

Tom Hanks! It seems every time you hear that name you envision an award- winning actor who accompanies an award-winning film and that is true here with Captain Phillips. Hanks keeps another promise by doing another matchless job and become such a key role in the success of this film. Hanks has done many a film in his superlative career, but these days he seems to be in situations of terror and trauma. This is a new role that Hanks has masterfully embraced. Hanks is key when it comes to his  ability to arouse the viewer by his marvelous acting. It becomes evident that the viewer and Hanks are able to trade emotions during the film, and that is what makes it so suspenseful. The fact that Hanks is able to transfer the highs and low of his emotions to the viewer is a huge part of why this film is so realistic. Tom Hanks has always done a superior job when it comes to executing his specific role in all his films. However, it seems that the more Hanks takes on trauma, and life threatening roles in movies, a different actor somehow evolves, in a new vibrant way.

One can also easily make the case that Hanks is one of the most versatile actors out there. Tom Hanks is versatile because of his demeanor on camera. He is very good at transforming himself into a different person in each of his films. He is always defined and sharp to a tee. That is the exact formula for films that are suspenseful and terrorizing, such as Captain Phillips. If your’e going to kidnap Tom Hanks, America is simply not going to let you get away with it. Hanks has truly done a terrific job.

Another reason why this movie was such a success, the Somalian Pirates, set the tone early with their AK47’s and career like performances. Muse, who has seem to come out of nowhere, quickly makes a name for himself contributing to the heart stopping suspense and terror. It is very hard to say why the pirates were such a huge part of the success of this film. Given, Hanks has cruised to another great performance. However, after watching this film it seems that both Hanks and Muse are dependent upon one another, by the intense interplay in the form of tense confrontations and interesting psychological games especially between Phillips, and the pirate leader Muse. The pirates had to be the leading force of intensity, and their roles were  undoubtedly performed with brilliance. The pirates also do a very convincing job being “the bad guys.” This may seem like an easy job, but this is very difficult because it is easy to inflate a movie with fake emotions. This really helped keep everything real and in perspective.

The main thing one should know about Captain Phillips is that it will put you through the wringer. Between Greengrass and his nervy hand-held camera shots, Hanks and his awesome display of reality, and the pirates’ primitive stunts and tense confrontations, it is hard to say why one would not be intrigued and provoked. In fact one can argue that the unique camera work only proves that Greengrass is beyond his time. Hanks as well has developed a new face in movies, showing that his versatile tactics are worth any price. Finally, the pirates complete this marvelous film with exuberance in every way. Sometimes a films is produced behind the scenes or out in front with the fame of the actor. However, Captain Phillips has seemed to capture both with perfect rhythm.


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