“The problem is not me talking. The problem is you, not listening.”
A few years ago, i was sailing on board of a japanese vessel, Nippon Maru. Along with 300+ other youth ambasadors from Southeast Asian country and Japan, we sail to 5 different countries during our 52 day cruise. It was the part of a youth exchange program supported by the government of Japan, called SSEAYP. During our sail from Brunei Darussalam through the South China Sea, we had one night when we just stop still on the water. The doors to the lido deck, sport deck, and other outdoor areas, that usually opened even at night, were locked as a precaution. We don’t really know what was happening at that time, but there was a rumor circulating that night: The ship is taking a precaution procedure to anticipate possible pirate attack. Everyone on board suddenly had this tense, nervous atmosphere. Me, being oblivious and clueless, have zero ideas what kind of pirates threat we’re facing. The only reference of Pirate i had in my had was of course Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of The Caribbean.
So nothing really prepared me for what i experienced in Captain Phillips. The film is an adaptation from a book by Captain Richard Phillips himself, called , A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, his own account on the true event of his experience when his ship was hijacked by Somali Pirates. Billy Ray who wrote the screenplay for The Hunger Games, adapted the book into this gritty screenplay that become the key of recreating the high-strung thriller with impeccable pace and kept me white-knuckling on the edge of my seat.
Opened with a daily conversation between Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his wife, and later him taking on the command of US vessel Maersk Alabama as it leave from Port Salalah in Oman to Mombasa carrying food to aid poor African countries in its cargo. The scene shift to a somalian shore, showing the recruitment by a local warlord for an upcoming piracy attempt. Muse led one of the pirate skiffs with three other mercenaries. After their failed attempt on the first day, the head-strong Muse and his crew went back to Maersk Alabama, in attempt to climb onto the vessel, to obtain millions of dollars in any way possible including kidnapping the ship crew. On board, Captain Phillips tried making a distress call for help and carefully craft a plan to protect his crews.
Paul Greengrass captures the mood of each scene and Barry Ackroyd utilizes shaky handheld cam to evoke nerves and fears. As the viewers i can’t help but to feel like i’m in the Captain’s shoes, gripping the edge of my seat in attempt to kept my calm against the threat from the pirates. This film inspired true fear for me, especially on the end of the movie where the Captain finally allows himself to collapse from the whole burden of his traumatic experience. Captain Phillips become a conflicting portrait between mighty superpower countries against the weak. Ultimately in the conversations between Phillips and Muse we can see that contrast. Represented by the heavy weaponry, gigantic armored ships and gadget, and carefully measured strategy, against hand-held guns, wooden skiff, barefooted mercenary with simple objectives in their minds. It’s hard to see these Pirates as the ultimate antagonist of the film, since the script allows a more humanistic approach to each character. At least for me personally, i felt sympathetic enough for Muse (brilliantly acted by newcomer actor Barkhad Abdi) and his crew and it made the ending of the film that much more bittersweet.
Captain Phillips is definitely a strong film in all aspects. Great directing, acting, and script, the film manage to deliver more than just a documentarian effort of recreating an event, it manage to deliver a great impact through its thought provoking end result. Captain Phillips, in my humble opinion, is one of this year’s greatest. And oh, Tom Hanks still fucking got it, bitches!
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013)
GENRE Thriller, Drama
DIRECTOR Paul Greengrass | PRODUCER Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, Scott Rudin | WRITER Billy Ray | MUSIC Henry Jackman | CINEMATOGRAPHER Barry Ackroyd | EDITOR Christopher Rouse | STUDIO Michael De Luca Productions, Scott Rudin Productions, Trigger Street Productions | DISTRIBUTOR Columbia Pictures | COUNTRY United States | BUDGET $55 million | RUNNING TIME 134 minutes | RATING PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use | RELEASE October 11, 2013 (US)
STARRING Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi