I wasn’t really psyched about watching this movie. The driving interest in watching it was the fact that is the first of the best picture noms available and I have been eager to start watching them. But this movie, especially when it was in theaters, never really appealed to me.
For one thing, we know what it is going to happen going into the movie. The film is based off of a true story and the damn trailer/commercials have him getting checked out by Navy doctors at the end of the flick. There is no uncertainty about what is going to happen going into this flick and that kind of drags the experience down a little bit (kind of like Argo did for me – but I guess people liked that). People are going into this movie to watch one thing, the performance of the actors.
Before we get into that though, how about a basic plot summary. Captain Phillips is about a shipping captain taking a freighter of supplies on a journey that travels past the Somali coastline. The ship gets raided by Somali pirates and the majority of the film is about how the Captain and those pirates interact.
The movie focuses around two characters for the majority of the film, Captain Richard Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) and Muse (played by Barkhad Abdi). The movie starts with individual shots of their lives and situations until the point where Muse and his team board the Captain’s ship and the two interact.
The weird thing about the movie is that Muse was not portrayed as some heartless stereotypical pirate (although there was a guy or two on his team of which you could say otherwise). It seemed a lot of his actions were done out of circumstance. There is even a point where Phillips asks Muse why he is doing this, that there must be other options for work, to which Muse responds, “Maybe in America, Irish, maybe in America.” The film, in areas, goes out of its way to give the pirates semblances of humanity – the most of which are portrayed in Muse (which is why Abdi is nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor.
The tour de force performance resides with Hanks, however. There is a moment towards the end of the film where the raw emotion coming from Hanks does nothing short of overpower the viewer. it is his film. It is his journey. While we may gravitate to the plight of the Somali pirates for periods, the character of Captain Phillips always gives some sort of moral context of humanity to what is going on. That constant is what makes the viewer feel like they are with him every step of the way.
I definitely recommend seeing this movie if only for the performance of Hanks in the latter half of the film. IMDB’s Meta score gives the film an 83 and I see no way or reason to really argue that score. I don’t know if the movie will win best picture, but it definitely is a story to spend two hours with.