Based on the alleged true story of the first hijacking of an American Cargo ship in 200 years, this at-sea drama is directed by The Bourne Ultimatum’s Paul Greengrass and stars Tom Hanks in the name role. Adapted from a book by Richard Phillips himself, there has been some controversy surrounding this film. Many crewmembers involved in the event have said that the film glorifies Captain Phillips too much, and that he led his crew into harms way.
I think by this point we’ve all come to realize that most Hollywood ‘true stories’ are over-dramatizations. While I’m sure the true story could have made a more interesting and complex plot, I don’t necessarily believe this film is a bad one. Tom Hanks’ performance is definitely very solid. It’s not one of the standout performances of this year, but Hanks definitely blended well into the role. The breakout performances in this film were definitely by the four Somali pirates. Having attended a casting call with no previous experience, these Minneapolis actors stole the show.
The film starts out with Boston-accented Captain Phillips talking to his non-accented wife about how hard it is to make it in the world nowadays. The symbolism is a bit in-your-face but not too distracting. The film’s real problem is that it’s just too long. At 134 minutes, it could easily be cut down to a less exhausting run-time. Not to say anything bad about long movies, but the events in the latter half of the film are so drawn out and repetitive that the film borders on boring and tedious.
Likely the most notable aspect of the cinematography to this film is that it’s shot mostly on a steady-cam. My guess is that it’s supposed to make the audience feel like they’re more at sea and less in a controlled environment. This idea works for a portion of the film, but there are also scenes where it seems like the camera operator forgot how to operate a camera. There are definitely some questionable shots that take you out of the moment and wonder if the filmmakers took enough footage.
On the whole, I was able to feel emotion for this film. There are some intense moments and good performances. The script is no spectacle, though it could certainly be worse. Far from one of the best films of the year, I still enjoyed myself. 7/10.