This is a review I originally posted at lettherebemovies.wordpress.com.
“It’s Air Force One on water,” that’s what I said when I saw the trailer. It wasn’t a criticism, just an observation. I quickly discovered, however, that Captain Phillips was much, much more.
Because Tom hanks. That’s all the explanation you need, just because Tom Hanks.
I could end the review right there, but I won’t. Because I like writing about movies. So I feel the need to ramble a little bit more.
The plot of the movie isn’t very hard to explain. It’s pretty simple, really. A cargo ship gets raided by pirates and Captain Phillips has to use his head in order to stay alive. And these aren’t swashbuckling pirates with parrots, swords, and planks; these guys have guns and they mean business.
The film’s realism is very impressive, as is Captain Phillips’ quick thinking. As a matter of fact, the pirates don’t succeed in taking the boat on their first attempt. After calling for help, the good ole captain makes a brilliant move. He sets the radio to the pirates’ frequency and talks as though he’s calling in for help, then changes his voice to say that they are sending air support.
That’s all I’ll give for spoilers. But I mean come on, did you really expect me not to share that one? It was just too awesome not too.
Clever moments like this abound throughout the story. There are more opportunities for it after the pirates board the ship, since the Captain was able to get the crew below before the pirates boarded.
Now this is the hard part. I have to talk about how legit and awesome the movie is from here on out without giving any spoilers. So instead, I’ll just talk about the character of Captain Phillips, because he’s pretty legit. He’s a very serious captain, and in the beginning he’s not necessarily one you would want as a boss. He’s pretty strict, and he doesn’t put up with much nonsense. When the pirates board the ship, however, his character shines through. He constantly sacrifices himself for the good of the crew. When the pirates become upset and start threatening his other crew members, he yells over them saying “If you’re going to shoot somebody, shoot me!” That line’s been used in dozens of movies, but he doesn’t really know these guys. They’re just crew members on a cargo ship, it’s not like they’ve been sailing together for years. It’s a type of self-sacrifice that’s all-too-uncommon.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
Now here’s the coolest part – it’s based on a true story. I didn’t know that when I started watching it, but was wondering after the film started. At the end of the movie, they give an update of what happened to all the characters afterwards. This allows Captain Phillips’ sacrifices to impact you to a greater extent, because he was real. It’s easy to make a virtuous fictional character, but when there’s a true story of a man’s heroism, that makes an impression.
Speaking of the end (don’t worry, no spoilers), when all is resolved, Tom Hanks’ acting shines through, in an incredible way. His performance of being in shock was downright bone-chilling. I don’t cry in movies. Not because I don’t want to or because I don’t think it’s manly, but just because I generally can’t. When Captain Phillips was being treated for shock, I got a little teary-eyed. His performance was downright incredible. That’s why I say “Because Tom Hanks.” His acting ability is always impressive, but he is sometimes in films that include wrong worldviews. In this case, his acting ability combines with an incredible story to make an amazing film.
Go see it. Right now. No, I mean now. Get up from the computer, go to the theater, and watch the movie. You won’t regret it.