Manuel Betancourt

Captain Phillips, or How “I’m the captain now!”

February 28, 2014 · in Film, Oscars

Top 8 - Captain PhilipsCaptain Phillips

Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Written by: Billy Ray
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, and  Catherine Keener.

Oscar Nominations: 6
Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Barkhad Abdi), Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Billy Ray), Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing

“I’m the captain now!”

Captain Philips is

is as solid an action-packed thriller as we’ve come to expect from Paul Greengrass. Indeed, this Somali pirates hostage ship film turns the real-life 2008’s events in the Indian ocean into a high-calibre Hollywood film (with swiftly-cut action sequences, necessarily bold strokes of good guy/bad guys characterizations) wrapped in a naturalist aesthetic that attempts to push back against the very politics the plot and timbre of the film imply. Greengrass’ tight focus on the eponymous captain and his Somali foil (a bruisingly terrifying Abdi) is one attempt at not merely humanizing the struggle but presenting the stakes of the takeover in the context of larger social and global inequality. Thus, the scenes between the two leads are both intimate and resonant; that the film devolves into a US army rescue mission and ends with the savaged body of our American hero is at once a necessity of the plot, but it manages to undo the careful framing of these two characters as needless victims of their own circumstances. There’s a larger nagging concern that the film stages about the American military and the oppression of disenfranchised peoples in third world countries but this all evaporates as soon as we are forced to (in one of the best scenes of the film and of Hanks’ career) empathize with Phillips but are never allowed to do the same for any of the Somali pirates. He is, despite what’s he’s told, always been the captain. B