Captain Phillips Screen 27 articles

Captain Phillips


Captain Phillips Poster
  • Doggedly cutting or panning away from Hanks to the point that there's little chance for an authentic performance to blossom on-screen, Greengrass' camerawork is so consistently unstable and nauseating [insert obligatory sea-sickness joke here] that it proves not a reflection of its protagonists' anxieties but, instead, merely an affection that undermines its own effectiveness by calling such attention to itself.

  • Politically conscious but emotionally underwhelming, Greengrass's and screenwriter Billy Ray's ship might have had more tug if it spent more than one scene and a couple lines of dialogue establishing how desperate motives are deeper than easy vilifications (cf. A Hijacking), but Tom Hanks—chewing through a Boston accent as the besieged Phillips—is absolutely unsinkable.

  • While there are explosive sequences, Captain Phillips often falls into sluggish lulls, mostly due to Billy Ray’s stilted screenplay. With most of the dialogue being exposition, the characters come off as robotic and merely regurgitate naval and counter-terrorism facts. Consequently, much emotional resonance is lost, as there’s never a sense of real people being trapped in a politically complex and perilous position – that is, until the final minutes.

  • As a thriller, Captain Phillips is undeniably top-notch, with Greengrass judiciously employing his "shaky-cam" style to consistently gripping effect... But by focusing so ruthlessly on dramatizing this attempted seizure and subsequent hostage situation in as viscerally immediate a manner as possible, Greengrass is essentially putting his faith in the drama—the characterizations, the real-life sociopolitical issues they raise—to take care of itself.

  • Director Paul Greengrass, a specialist in political thrillers who made “United 93,” “Bloody Sunday” and the second and third Bourne adventures, has never before made anything this propagandistic or this characterless. His portrayal of the enormous United States military operation to free Phillips from his captors has the calm technological blankness of a Navy commercial, without the 1970s waka-waka guitar.

  • The final act, in which a tiny lifeboat is completely ill-defined by shot geography and the noose tightens, brings out what a hollow story this really is, not a celebration of US might but also set adrift from its claim to any greater relevance.

  • Purporting to make realistic and austere films, Greengrass wanders into a gray zone where questions about the morality of representation and the responsibility of the artist are not acknowledged. For a filmmaker dabbling in recent history, it’s a serious problem... That inability to widen the lens, to move beyond the merely immediate experience, is how a filmmaker like Greengrass can make movies that are both expertly assembled and yet clueless about what they’re saying at the same time.

  • Once the piracy proceeds, a pronounced distance sets in between the viewer and the action, as if it’s being watched (a la Phillips himself) through long focal -length binoculars. Only in a brief finale, with the camera intimately trained on a profoundly vulnerable Hanks recovering from his trauma, does the emotional distance dissolve.

  • ...There are subtler aspects in Captain Phillips, which this embarrassingly tone-deaf drama misunderstands or ignores. In a world where almost everything is deemed ‘offensive’ by some group or other, the near-unanimous acclaim for this very dodgy movie is bewildering.

  • Dumb I can handle, but after a reasonably suspenseful first half Phillips founders, turning into a very boring movie about a guy trying to outwit his captors in the least interesting ways possible. Lots of sweating/shaky-cam ≠ you are there immersion, and there's lots of static wheel-spinning before the American military shows up and saves the day (or indicts our fascist ways or whatever the hell).

  • There’s a small, effective story in here somewhere, but it gets crushed by big-movie pretensions, just as any sense of equanimity is wiped out once the American ships roll in. Reduced to its two-men-in-a-boat core structure this might be capable of some sharp parallels, a sort of Grand Illusion at sea. But you can’t achieve that balance when one side is represented as a culture of base, needful savagery, the other powerful and decisive.

  • No one in movies today, with the possible exceptions of Kathryn Bigelow and Ken Loach, does you-are-there realism better than Greengrass, further enhanced by the crackerjack editing of longtime collaborator Christopher Rouse (who also earns a co-producer credit here). Yet “Captain Phillips” suffers from a certain vague feeling that we’ve seen this movie before, both in Greengrass’ own filmography and, more explicitly, in the excellent recent import “A Hijacking”...

  • It may not boast [United 93's] momentous topicality, but Captain Phillips is more accomplished on both of those fronts, and once its insistence on broadcasting the common bonds between Phillips and Muse settles into a smoother groove, there's an emergence of nuances at which the movie's inevitable naysayers should probably look closer.

  • Director Paul Greengrass remains a genius of claustrophobia, yet his better films—Bloody Sunday (2002), United 93 (2006) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)—all beat with a stronger sense of central identification. He doesn’t have as much to work with this time, and his solution is to slow down the pace. The result is more clarity, but also more monotony.

  • The camera... follows the men with precision and grace, through long, narrow corridors and into watertight chambers lined with pipes and dials. Shots are edited intelligently and meticulously... Still, there's something about Captain Phillips that's exhausting, and it may have to do with Greengrass's insistence on trying to explain why unhappy Somalis would want to clamber aboard an American ship and start firing automatic weapons willy-nilly.

  • ...A proceduralist like Greengrass is fascinated by The Professionals, lending these granite-faced (and poker-faced) elite forces an inevitable heroism. But after the long day of the hijacking comes a longer night, with an even more cramped setting, and, in what perhaps clinches the movie, Hanks exposed as a vulnerable body like any other.

  • More often that not, Captain Phillips is riveting. Though he remains unfortunately convinced that violently shaking his camera is the best way to achieve visual urgency, Greengrass nevertheless excels at pressure-cooker scenarios. There’s a level of procedural detail here, and an interest in specific maritime protocol, that lends the film’s hijacking sequence—in which Hanks delays the attack using breakneck steering and a clever bluff—a jolt of believability.

  • This is a film that boasts an unforgettable central turn from Tom Hanks, his finest since early Noughties double-header Road to Perdition and Catch Me If You Can. It's a role that feels tailor-made for an actor whose talent has always shined brightest in those moments of contemplative solitude so rarely afforded in mainstream cinema.

  • Like most movies based on real-life news stories, this feels fundamentally shapeless to me—ably executed, for the most part (though the drive to the airport with Special Useless Guest Star Catherine Keener is easily one of the year's worst scenes), but with no dramatic perspective on the events it's re-enacting.

  • Greengrass, thankfully, tones down his usual shaky-cam, epilepsy-inducing editing style and lets the story’s forward momentum carry the weight, a move that makes a vast difference: You walk away from Captain Phillips shaken not by a filmmaker’s bag of tricks but by his virtuosity in placing you in the middle of another man’s waking nightmare.

  • “Captain Phillips” is not only a masterful action movie that breathlessly and believably re-stages a tense standoff at sea, but a resonant portrait of systemized financial imbalance trickling down into the water. While this is arguably Greengrass’ best film, it’s almost certainly his most urgent.

  • Greengrass is scrupulous about making us confident that we're watching a reconstruction of known events in a known order. His actualism is nothing if not immersive—Christopher Rouse's whiplash editing, Barry Ackroyd's camera pelting down corridors and ladders or rocking with the sea, the dramatic enclosure that kicks in when Phillips is taken captive and the action cuts to the claustrophobically enclosed capsule of a lifeboat.

  • Captain Phillips is another sterling example of Greengrass’ ability to capture the immediacy of high pressure situations... [The film] is not only concerned with the visceral depiction of recent history; it’s also a critique of ideological systems (governmental, economic) that manipulate men like Phillips and Muse to sustain suffocating cycles of commerce.

  • A master of smash-mash montage and choreographed chaos, Greengrass is adroit at producing the sense of everyone converging and everything happening simultaneously. The movie’s two, almost viral, pirate attacks are tumultuous set pieces with an abundance of subtitled Somali adding to confusion.

  • The existential realities that inform contemporary Somali piracy turn out to be one of the unexpected themes of “Captain Phillips,” which begins as something of a procedural about men at work and morphs into a jittery thriller even as it also deepens, brilliantly, unexpectedly, into an unsettling look at global capitalism and American privilege and power.

  • It's the rare movie about Western guilt that doesn't wallow or pity. What some moviegoers will experience in that lifeboat is not Stockholm syndrome. It's a hard, searing empathy. In every Greengrass movie, what's at stake is both personal and political. But Captain Phillips represents a subtle new risk for his globalist existentialism.

  • With Navy SEALs who jump out of airplanes and time their landings with uncanny accuracy, facial recognition software that can identify the pirates swiftly and correctly, snipers and commanders who act with automaton-like precision, the film presents a world that functions not unlike a machine: A capitalist machine, protected and enforced by a military machine, both removing the human element from the process as much as possible.

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