Thursday, November 7, 2013


Huh, somehow with all the film festivals and everything else going on, I found time for a mainstream movie. And it was a pretty good one. Tom Hanks, of course, does a great job. So does everyone else. And Paul Greengrass (BOURNE SUPREMACY, UNITED 93) does a great job of making it feel very real. In fact, that was the major response I had immediately after watching it--it felt very, very real (because, of course, it's based on a true story.) And that overwhelmed me so much that it wasn't until a couple of days later that I realized how different and subversive it really is. I'm going to have to get into spoilers here, but since the story was plastered all over the news just a few years ago, I think that can be forgiven. In any case, don't say you weren't warned.

For the first half of the movie, it plays out like a tight, expertly-crafted action/suspense film. Tom Hanks is cool and collected as Capt. Phillips. He doesn't have weapons, but he has guile and knowledge of his ship. He's very clever at getting messages to his hidden crew letting them know exactly what needs to be done. And it's effective...up to a point. Once the pirates shove him into the lifeboat and launch into the water to head to Somalia, it's a different ballgame and a different movie. And it's not just that Phillips is reduced to nothing more than a hostage, it's that the central conflict in the movie changes. Instead of wily Capt. Phillips vs. vicious pirates, it's 4 young, scared Somali boys against the might of the U.S. Navy. Not that you necessarily root for them, it's that you root for a resolution without bloodshed (alas, knowing the real story that's just not to be. Maybe a later generation that doesn't know the story would have a more fulfilling time with the movie.) In the end, the greatest trauma Capt. Phillips experiences isn't having his ship taken over or being a hostage, it's having three kids shot right in front of him and their blood splattering all over him. And that's unlike any action movie I've ever seen. Bravo, Paul Greengrass!

Running Time: 134 minutes
My Total Minutes: 340,955

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