There’s no denying it: Controversy surrounds the release of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.
Based on the book A Captains Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea (penned by Phillips himself), the screenplay is hailed as true to it’s source material. There are only minor changes made to maintain pace and political correctness, and to keep Tom Hanks in focus.
But it’s not the version of events that is under scrutiny; The criticism is directed at Phillips himself and his heroic on-screen depiction.
Some crew (conveniently speaking anonymously with the media) accuse Phillips of being “self righteous” and “having a death wish”. Others go as far as to claim he wanted to be taken hostage. They are reportedly so outraged, they are proceeding to sue.
More recently, however, crew member Shane Murphy came forward publicly, vouching for the accuracy of the film…
So basically; Who knows?! All I know is it’s a bloody great story that drives a bloody good film.
Though slow to start, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS tells a gripping story so intense that viewer exhaustion by the closing credits is guaranteed.
Headed by Tom Hanks in top form, the cast is strong, with highlight performances by the four leading Somali pirates (all of whom have not acted before).
Filming “at sea”, or in the restricted surrounds of a ship, presents it’s limitations cinematography-wise, but CAPTAIN PHILLIPS does it’s best to keep things moving visually. After the crawling start (what was with that overlong, seemingly unrelated car conversation between Phillips and his wife?!), the pace is maintained excellently, ensuring extensive nail biting for the two plus hours running time.
Several scenes are rather dark – though this was admittedly made worse by watching a 35mm film print. As a pre-digital projectionist I have a real soft spot for film, but it just didn’t serve this picture well.
There was talk of a supposed “stolen soundtrack”, with accusations that the track in the climactic scene sounds extremely similar to the song ‘Time’ from INCEPTION. In truth, the film’s composer was mentored by Hans Zimmer hence the similarity. (Zimmer is cordially thanked in the credits). While it may be Zimmer-esque in parts, I liked the soundtrack and even found myself tapping my toes in parts despite all the drama!
Whilst most are hailing CAPTAIN PHILLIPS as the best thing since sliced bread, out of principle I can’t be quite so complimentary. Sure it’s well-made and well acted, but the real power is in the ‘what’, not the ‘how’: It’s the gripping story that is the star of this film, not the filmmaking itself.
OK, so I may be being a little harsh… it is a great film, but let’s be honest; it’s a riveting true story and you’d have to be a genuine fool to cock it up.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS rates 7 stars.
Release Date: October 24