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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Captain Phillips

This is the true story of the attack on the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, and the hostage-taking of the shipmaster, Captain Richard Phillips.  It doesn't view like a docudrama, however -- it has all the suspense of a firstclass thriller, and the thrill of being reality.  It is so well done that you feel as if you are viewing the actual events as they unfold.

Tom Hanks, as Phillips, is outstanding, projecting as well as he did in the blockbuster Castaway, where he successfully carried off a virtually solo part.  Equally impressive though, is the man who plays the hostage-taker, Musa.  This is Barkad Abdi, who (like Hanks and the production team) received many Academy nominations for the film, and won the award for best supporting actor.

All four Somalis in the film play their parts brilliantly.  They look as mad and as panicked as the pirates they were playing must have seemed.  But Barkad Abdi is the one who projects the best. A high point of the film is when he is tricked on board the USS Bainbridge, and looks about, his demeanor as confused and intimated -- though trying not to betray it -- as Musa's must have been as he was led through the commotion on deck, while helicopters revolved and buzzed in the dark overhead.

Was the film true to the actual events?  Some of the Maersk Alabama crew assert that the captain was not quite as heroic as he pretended to be, but that kind of carping is easily dismissed in the face of the sheer quality of this film.  And don't forget to pay attention to the particularly excellent score.

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