I don’t think I’ve ever started a review by talking about the final scene, mostly I guess because I don’t want to be revealing spoilerific plot details. But with Captain Phillips being based on a book written by Captain Richard Phillips about his experience with Somali pirates, I think it’s a given that you already know the general outcome. But it’s the end of this film that will leave a lasting impression on you, and cement Tom Hanks as one of the best actors alive. It’s a moving scene where Hanks’ character, Richard Phillips is safe in the care of an American Naval Doctor, and after the absolutely harrowing experience he’s just endued, can finally breath and start to heal. Unlike many American films, Phillips is a character of a broken man, who now has to find the strength to recover and heal. It is without a doubt the most powerful scene that you will see on the cinema screen this year. And Hanks nails it.
Hanks in fact, along with director Paul Greengrass nail the entire film, which is no small achievement when you realise that we already know how it ends, and that it’s based entirely on vessels at sea.
The funny thing is that Captain Phillips isn’t a lovable character at all. He rides his crew for taking too long for their smoko, has them running drills and chews them off for not having the pirate cages locked down whilst they are in port. Basically he’s your worst boss.
That is until things go south, and then you’re glad you have a veteran Captain in charge, and Greengrass at the film’s helm. Once the action begins, the films drives along at full throttle, never letting up, even when the action becomes more a battle of wills in the enclosed space of the lifeboat.
After seeing the trailers and knowing what I was in for, I quickly checked out the length of the film, only to be dismayed that it was going to clock in at 134 minutes. How the hell was Hanks and Greengrass going to drag out a simple pirate drama to last over two hours long? I was dreading the worst, and just hoping the pair didn’t send me into a cinematic induced coma.
Fortunately, Greengrass squeezed a heck of a lot of film in that two hour plus time slot, and when that final scene was coming to an end I was thinking “what can they possibly do now?” because I was certain I’d only been watching for about an hour.