Terror on the high seas

Terror on the high seas

Captain Phillips English (A) ****Cast: Tom Hanks, Michael Chernus, Barkhad AbdiDirector: Paul Greengrass

Pirates have often been portrayed comically in popular culture, with movies like Peter Pan and Pirates of the Caribbean. Captain Phillips, a movie based on a true event that took place in April 2009, more than trounces this impression of physically challenged pirates with wooden legs and hooks for hands.

Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks), is a man who runs a tight ship. His goal is to take a cargo ship from the Salala port in Oman to the one in Djibouti, while going through the pirate-ridden waters off the Somali coast.  In a role reminiscent of stern and punctual FedEx manager Chuck Noland in the movie Cast Away, Captain Phillips wants to make sure that the cargo on the Maersk Alabama reaches its destination safely and as quickly as possible. While he sets off for Salala, able-bodied and armed, fishermen-turned-pirates in Somalia plot to hijack whatever ship appears on their radar. 

A viewer is now pleasantly overcome by a sense of impending doom, accompanied by a soundtrack that transcends from sanguine to deadly, much like the waves Captain Phillips will have to tide over. 

With only one or two of his crew putting on a brave face in the face of the imminent threat, the captain doesn’t hesitate to put himself on the line in place of giving orders to his subordinates. 

Unarmed and defenceless, the men aboard the Maersk Alabama find themselves at the mercy of pirates, who have guns to the heads of their vanguards, while their captain offers his head over that of his comrades. 

And so, a rescue mission begins to save the men from the pirates’ clutches.

In this real-world scenario, Tom Hanks delivers his role so naturally and effortlessly that it is almost unfathomable that he merely put up a performance. It only goes to show that Hanks is not done bringing us good movies.  On watching the many heart-wrenching scenes in the movie, it would be surprising if one is not moved to tears.

Though challenging to make a movie look good in shaky-camera mode, director Paul Greengrass pulls it off gracefully.

Tom Hanks’ bio on his twitter account reads, “I’m that actor in some of the movies you liked and some you didn’t.”

Captain Phillips, hands down, belongs to the former category.

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