One of the things that I love about Tom Hanks is that he doesn’t rest on his laurels. He’s been a huge star forever and if he wanted to, he could be giving us garbage and odds are, we’d show up and plop our butts in the seats. But Hanks is still out there, challenging himself in films and, most recently Broadway, feeding his creative beast. He’s a guy who just loves being an actor.
In Captain Phillips, director Paul Greengrass’ new film about the hijacking of a U.S. container ship by a group of Somali pirates, Hanks plays the title character; a regular guy who’s got a family and is worried about his kinds chances of getting into a good college. A guy who takes his job seriously and expects his shipmates to do the same. You could almost say he seems kind of boring.
That is until the pirates show up and then he’s anything but.
The film focuses on both Phillips and Muse, the leader of the pirates who take over the ship. Greengrass goes back and forth between the two, showing the events that lead up to the takeover through both of their perspectives. Muse (played by Barkhad Abdi), in a sense, is a victim of his surroundings. With no prospects of any kind, he’s forced to work for a warlord (do you capitalize warlord?) who’s in the business of hijacking ships for their money and goods. He’s doing this to survive and if he doesn’t get the job done, well, the boss is gonna be pissed. He’s got nothing against Captain Phillips but it’s, you know, business.
Once the pirates kidnap Phillips and scramble off into the ocean in a tiny life boat, the film becomes intense and claustrophobic. Greengrass gives us extreme closeups to give us that boxed in feeling and you absolutely feel it. This is where I began to sympathize with Muse and I actually felt sorry for him. He’s dealing with the cards he’s been delt and it’s a shitty hand. It’s a tricky thing to pull off for both Greengrass and first time actor Abdi but they did a fine job in showing both sides.
Hanks is, of course, fantastic. You feel for him and desperately want him to come out on top. Every ounce of pain he’s feeling on-screen, I felt as an audience member.
Once you see the three Navy Warships sent to rescue Phillips, you realize how much of enormous pain in the ass a handful of people can be to a massive amount of people. It reminded me of what the Tea Party is doing to the Government right now. But unfortunately, we don’t have Tom Hanks trying to talk sense into these dummies.