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Review: ‘Captain Phillips’ invokes emotions despite shaky camera work

Tom Hanks in a scene from 'Captain Phillips,' which is set to hit theaters Oct. 11. Credit: Courtesy of Gofobo

Tom Hanks in a scene from ‘Captain Phillips,’ which is set to hit theaters Oct. 11.
Credit: Courtesy of Gofobo

From headlining breaking news on CNN to fixing a spot at the top of a movie theater’s marquee, the incredible story of a merchant mariner surviving the rough waters of being held captive in foreign waters comes to the silver screen.

“Captain Phillips” is a pseudo-biographical action and thriller film based on the true story of Richard Phillips, former captain of the container ship the MV Maersk Alabama, and his crew’s run in with Somali pirates in 2009. Phillips’ story is also captured by the “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea,” which was adapted to screenplay by screenwriter Billy Ray, best known for his screen adaptation to film for “The Hunger Games.”

The film stars Tom Hanks in the title role as Captain Phillips. Throughout the film, Phillips proves his selflessness through his wit and bravery, allowing him to become captured in order to spare his crew from death. Hanks’ ability to act out these scenes onscreen are successful, showing the depth and intelligence Phillips had over the situation, even when his life was in danger.

Phillips, being from Winchester, Mass., speaks with a Boston accent. Although Hanks goes above the calling to try and match Phillips’ speech patterns, to me he still sounded like himself as he tried to pull off the accent.

Hanks’ portrayal of this true event shines onscreen, especially at the end of the film. When Phillips goes into shock after certain events, Hanks’ portrayal of this state of being is so natural, I almost forgot I was watching a movie.

The movie does a good job putting a face to the Somali pirates. Its adaption of the story shows how young and vulnerable the 16 to 19-year-old pirates were, falling for Phillips’ tricks and lies throughout the film. The film also emphasizes how the actions behind the pirates stem from an employer rather than their own — the characters explain that they’re fishermen, and since large cargo ships take the fish, they have nothing to make their income.

Due to the action sequences on the ocean, the camera work was sometimes shaky. Although fitting to the setting, the shakiness made me feel appropriately seasick and it was difficult to focus at times.

Full of waves of adrenaline, “Captain Phillips” invokes the feeling that you’re watching the events unfold and sharing the emotions and stress the characters feel.

“Captain Phillips” is set to release in theaters Friday.


Grade: B+

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