When I first heard about an American freighter being taken over by pirates through the major news networks a few years ago, I really didn’t give it much thought, except for, “Pirates really do still exist, huh?” Aside from last year’s Halloween costume and the occasional Jack Sparrow binge, pirates aren’t something I worry about on a daily basis. As the film Captain Philips reveals, piracy is still very much a thing in this modern-day and age of technology. That alone intrigued me to watch. Add in Tom Hanks, an absolute nobody in Hollywood being compared legitimately to Hanks’ acting abilities, and its based on a true story…I’m all in.
You should be too.
A silver screen veteran up against a Hollywood nobody (not prior to this film, anyway) and they swashbuckle with such raw humanity, I instantly fell in love with both of them whether I was aware I was doing so or not. A villan with conscience. It has a beautiful ironic twinkle sound to it, don’t you think?
Captain Philips is probably the most human film out all of the nominees this year. Because its recent, and Paul Greengrass’s documentary style of filming makes one pay attention more than a regular film. The entire film itself does start off a bit slow, but that just may be the point. Make a point of how dreary and boring Captain Philips’ life actually is, and it’s all flipped on its head once the pirates board the ship. This is no longer an ordinary day with a pretty ordinary job. The film really picks up pace once Muse and his posse climb aboard. It all feels gritty, and really like you’re right there with Captain Philips and his crew. You’re living it with him (this feeling is especially present with the climatic action scene).
The main thrill of the entire film? Anxiety. Yes, the crew has plans. Yes, they have protocol when it comes to something like this. Yes, they run drills. But everyone still holds the sense that something like this will never happen to them (famous last words, right?). I never thought I’d say this, but the anxiety is what I loved. The knowing Captain Philips and his crew are absolutely defenseless against Muse and his crew is what entices you as the viewer. Once this is realized, it becomes a game of cat and mouse, and its a matter of time to see who is actually the cat and who is the mouse.
While I loved the anxiety-rush of the entire film, there are other key moments I reaped utter joy from. Here are my Top 10 favorite moments from Captain Philips: (SPOILERS MAY LAY AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!)
1.) An immediate sense of foreboding the moment the film starts (and I love that!)
2.) Captain Philips packing a framed family photo into his bag before leaving home
3.) A coffee break is a coffee break, and Captain Philips isn’t afraid to call out an extended break time
4.) Watching the Tom Hanks being so emotionally naked in the last five minutes of the film as he journeys through anguish, shock, disbelief, urgency to reach his family, rescued relief, and ultimately thankful immediately upon being rescued, letting what had just unfolded really set in. (Tom Hanks still has it.)
5.) The line “I’m the captain now.” (Fun Fact: Director Paul Greengrass purposely kept Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi away from each other on set until they filmed this moment.)
6.) The very human moment between Muse and Captain Philips —
Capt. Philips: “There’s gotta be something else you can do other than fishing and kidnapping.”
Muse: “Maybe in America, Irish. Maybe in America.”
7.) The score by Henry Jackman
8.) The clear struggle on the Muse’s face between succeeding in his plan and holding on to what is actually morally right.
9.) My favorite actor from The Unit, Max Martini, being in charge of the SEAL rescue operation
10.) The plain and simple truth that a limo driver from Minnesota with zero prior acting experience can hold a very bright candle to a silver screen veteran like Tom Hanks, and continue his success with not only a Golden Globe nomination, but a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod as well.
What’s even better about this movie is that Captain Philips is not portrayed in an overstuffed ‘I’m such a hero’ way. He really isn’t, when you come down to it. Yes, he saved his men from a situation that could have potentially gone terribly, terribly wrong for everyone. More than anything, Captain Philips is a man who up with courage in the face of danger. In a way, he was a hero, but it’s shown in such a quiet way that you don’t forget that he’s also a man thrust into an awful situation.
Whether you like to accept it or not folks, Tom Hanks still has it.