It’s always hard to really enjoy a movie when you already know the ending. Apollo 13 was well acted and directed perfectly by Ron Howard, but we knew all along that those three astronauts made it home safe and sound. The Andrea Gale was never found so I kind of had a feeling things wouldn’t end well for the crew in The Perfect Storm. Every once in a while there comes a film where you know the outcome, yet you are on the edge of your seat through out the film. Examples would include the Academy Award winning Titanic, last year’s Zero Dark Thirty and we can now add Tom Hank’s new film Captain Phillips to the list.
Captain Phillips tells the harrowing, true story of Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama that was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia in 2009. Phillips nervously struggles to keep his crew safe and is taken hostage by the pirates in one of the ship’s life boats. Even though I was very familiar with how the story turns out, director Paul Greengrass managed to keep my knuckles white and my breath short while watching the four armed men in nothing more than a glorified Jon Boat overtake the massive vessel. Greengrass brings the style of action and camera work from his previous Bourne films and makes you feel as if you’re part of the takeover and running for your life to escape it. Aside from a slow stretch when Phillips and the pirates escape in the life boat, Captain Phillips never takes its hand off the throttle until the emotional ending.
The reason the known story of Captain Phillips works on film is the performance of old reliable Tom Hanks. I don’t want to hear from the foolish Tom Hanks haters ever again. The man is the finest actor we have working in Hollywood today and he brings his A-game to Captain Phillips. Hanks plays the captain as a “Nervous Nellie” that knows the threat is real at his 9 to 5 job everyday. You can see the fear in his eyes and the distress in Hank’s voice as he tries to deal with the armed intruders. Hank’s Phillips is a man scared out of his mind, but never falters in keeping his crew and ship safe. Even if it means sacrificing his physical and mental health through the whole ordeal. The last ten minutes of Captain Phillips alone should earn Hanks another Oscar nomination. Tom Hanks almost had me breaking my “no crying rule” in the theater at the conclusion of the film. All I can say is it’s some powerful acting from the two-time Academy Award winner. Overall I give Captain Phillips 3.5 out of 4 potatoes.
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