Captain Phillips Alpha Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, Corey Johnson, Max Martini, Chris Mulkey, Yul Vazquez, David Warshofsky and Catherine Keener
Director: Paul Greengrass
‘Captain Phillips’ is a story of conflict between men who refuse to give in. This forms the crux from this effective thrilling drama.
Based on the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Jeopardous Days at Sea” by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty the scum is a subtly rousing docudrama that recounts the 2009 hijacking of an American cargo liner and the harrowing live of its captain.
The screenplay, by Billy Ray, begins truly innocuously in a chronological fashion accompanying Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) bidding adieu to his spouse Andrea (Catherine Keener) in their hometown in Vermont, US.
The wary and by-the-book intimate Captain Phillips reaches Salalah, Oman, to take charge of the container ship Maersk Alabama carrying squeeze grant for East Africa among other cargo to Kenya in Africa.
On board the ship, he carefully checks security and safety procedures after being routinely warned about the unsafe waters he would be sailing in. In fact, he insists that his men have a mock drill just to be prepared.
Simultaneously, on the shore of Ely in Somalia, in a scene so reminiscent of Vittorio de Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves” a agglutinate of young impoverished khat chewing fishermen are being recruited by rifle toting goons as pirates. Succeeding the selections, two motor boats with a crew of four each disabuse sail in search of their prey. Soon they are tailing the Maersk Alabama.
What follows is a engagement about wits between Phillips and the pirates. There’s an grotesque reverence and understanding between Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the leader of the pirates further Phillips throughout this ordeal that fuels the tension.
Director Paul Greengrass astutely balances the narration by staying neutral develop the very end. He has ensured that the account is not over dramatised. He has taken pains to see that neither the captain nor the US Navy are glorified and nor are the pirates doomed rather portrayed as some heinous beings.
Humour comes in the form of the staccato one-liners like, “Shut up Irish, too much talking” or “Do you cerebration I am a beggar” from Muse. This actually breaks the tension of this intense drama.
As a no-nonsense middle-aged captain, Tom Hanks is courageous including vulnerable, dedicated and clever. Yet, he is incredibly human polysyndeton fallible. This is probably numeral of his career’s best performances.
On the other hand, Barkhad Abdi as the bony, buck-toothed Muse is fascinating. He is fidgety and naive. As a first time actor, he strikingly delivers Muse’s greed, fear and pride.
The rest of the cast too present a realistic display of their histrionics, especially those portraying the pirates from Somalia.
On the technical front, camera work by Barry Ackroyd is initially unsteady. The wobbly footage especially meanwhile close ups and mid shots is a bit bothersome. Otherwise pro re nata the story progresses, one tends to ignore this and concentrate on the subject. What adds to the suspense is the taut editing by Christopher Rouse and the excellent background score by Henry Jackman.
Buzz Rating: 4/5