Captain Phillips (2013): Tom Hanks plays Captain Phillips, the captain of a ship in Somalian waters that gets taken over by pirates who hold them for ransom. Oh and it's based off of real events that occurred in 2009, if you somehow didn't know that.
Ok so....good, but not great. That's the sum up of this movie. Tom Hanks is obviously brilliant, and the story is awesome, but there are just aspects here that didn't work for me. For example....the shaky cam. Oh man this is such a crutch for directors used to build tension. It works in the scenes that actually had suspense behind it, but in simple dialogue sequences? I mean I get that they are on the water but there's a way to keep the camera unsteady to simulate the feeling of being on water while simultaneously not making it distracting and disorienting. Paul Greengrass directed this, and I feel like it's important to say that because he has a history of making movies based off of huge real-life events. His previous work was United 93, which I loved. But he forgot to include aspects of that in here. One of which was with the pirates themselves. There's only four of them, but with the exception of the leader, the other three are basically interchangeable. You have the generic angry guy, the generic too-young-to-be-here guy, and the driver. Who I forgot existed even during the movie. This is very different from United 93, which did actually humanize the terrorists to an extent.
Other than those two complaints, albeit major complaints, it was a good movie. Hanks was phenomenal as Phillips, taking a character that starts out as relatively unlikable (an all work no play boss that doesn't identify with his crew) and really fleshes him out and turns him into the hero by the end that you really feel for. The entire ship sequence with the pirates taking over are (in my opinion) the best scenes of the movie. Everything Greengrass did throughout the movie came together brilliantly in these sequences, with an incredible amount of tension built up with the shaky cam and the overpowering score as the pirates used Phillips to search for the crew on the ship. Then once again when the Navy intervenes everything works, but there's a lot of movie in between where it just didn't do it for me, leading to an incredibly uneventful second act. Also Catherine Keener is in this, playing Phillips wife. This is way too big of an actress to have in exactly one scene in this movie, so I'm guessing there was a whole "how the family is reacting" portion of this movie that got taken out due to time. And the movie is still too long. Greengrass definitely could've benefited from cutting out like another 20 minutes in here, particularly in the awkward second act where the pirates and Phillips are in the lifeboat being chased by the ship they were just on. Seriously, there was like a 10 minute chase sequence on the ocean in the middle here that was relatively unnecessary.
Ok so I know it sounds like I'm hating on this movie, but it was still good! The story is absolutely phenomenal and Hanks is brilliant, but there's just too many bad directoral decisions in this movie complement with an awkward middle act that prevent it from crossing that threshold into great. But it was still enjoyable.
The Verdict: Hanks dazzles in a suspenseful retelling of the first American piracy incident in two centuries, but not without its flaws.
The Recommendation: the younger crowd that doesn't necessarily care about modern events retold on screen won't find this enjoyable, but the older crowd most certainly will. I would still recommend it in general. Oh and a must-watch for Hanks fans. This may not be his best performance, but it was still very memorable.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
Oscar Talk: Best Adoptive Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Picture (only because of the massive field)