Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

November 6, 2013

‘Captain Phillips’ a thrilling ballet of suspense, wit

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — Call it being more a fan of the fantasy that outgrew its reality, but despite a constant access to instant information, it’s hard not to associate even modern piracy with that old stereotype of swash buckling entertainment. It doesn’t really matter where the scurvy dogs are from, it’s become a regular pastime to only think of yelling yarr while downing the nearest bottle of rum instead thinking of guys who would sooner gut you than sing a shanty.

I’ll also admit to wondering beforehand how one could take a single pirate attack in today’s time, no matter how famous, and make it intriguing enough to stretch out into a full length motion picture. However, that’s exactly what’s happened here and it doesn’t take long to figure out why it would also create a lot of potential buzz for the award season, starting with one of the most exciting interactions between a protagonist and antagonist of any movie this year. “Captain Phillips” is of course subject to no lack of debate as to how much of it really was based on a true story, but aside from that will keep one on the edge of their seat no matter how guaranteed the happy ending is.

Based somewhat on the real life hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009, we are introduced to the man with the name in the title, Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), who commands the vessel out of Oman, as it sails with its cargo through the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa. Portrayed as a diligent man (which some actual crew members deny), he decides to conduct a series of drills after he learns that there is a recent increase in pirate activity in the area.

Not far away in Somalia, we meet the eventual force to be reckoned with, a young man named Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who is a member of one of two crews determined to haul in as much reward as they can for their warlord bosses. Despite all efforts that seem successful at first, this chess match on the seas is set to go face to face between the two and sets itself apart from other flicks through not only showing the heart racing hope for survival, but a look at how what we think is evil may be far more gray than we’d like. There’s an effort there to also establish accountability for what the free world has done to those less fortunate and how many hands that are supposed to save the day may have contributed to the wrongdoing in the first place.

By the time it is over it is not impossible that one might feel some compassion for those labeled as the bad guys. I would certainly recommend it as a good discussion piece for many a history or political classroom once on DVD.

That said, this flick is certainly one I’d recommend for any adult audience, with some reservations for the younger audience due to the graphic violence. I’m still holding out to see how Hanks does on his Walt Disney biopic in December before I say he’s got another best actor or picture coming, but it certainly deserves to be in the discussion. As a result I’d say the final verdict for “Captain Phillips” is four and one fourth out of five hijackings.

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.