Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Minireview: Captain Phillips

The tale of a 2009 hijacking off the coast of Somalia, Captain Phillips is an intense, visceral suspense film with some terrific performances from Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. Culture shock between Abdi and Hanks spices up a conventional action movie and the humanization of both sides saves the inevitable victory from savoring of triumphalism.

The choice to narrow the focus, refusing to cut back to the home countries of either the protagonist or antagonist does much to intensify the feeling of isolation, but is somewhat lessened by the many scenes aboard the glitzy, modern Navy ships (this isn't Bourne here, fellas). Some of Hanks's all-time best acting is set alongside the odd, quirky, sullenness of excellent newcomer Abdi.

While it becomes rather repetitive and tedious during the last act, the conclusion is truly moving. I don't think I'll be watching it again soon, but if I did it would be for the last ten, twenty minutes - a pure shot of adrenaline dwindling into a quiet end that's begging the audience to Think About It - to lean back after the thrills and terrors and reflect on events - that certainly doesn't happen with many films, much less suspense films. This one is definitely a top contender for my best-of-the-month pick.

4/5 stars

Hannah Long

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