Manager Phillips Star Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, Corey Johnson, Max Martini, Chris Mulkey, Yul Vazquez, David Warshofsky and Catherine Keener
Director: Paul Greengrass
‘Captain Phillips’ is a tale of conflict between men who refuse to give in. This forms the crux of this operant thrilling drama.
Based on the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, besides Dangerous Days at Sea” by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty the film is a subtly rousing docudrama that recounts the 2009 hijacking of an American cargo liner and the harrowing experience of its captain.
The screenplay, beside Billy Ray, begins deeply innocuously in a chronological fashion with Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) bidding adieu to his wife Andrea (Catherine Keener) in their hometown in Vermont, US.
The discreet and by-the-book person Captain Phillips reaches Salalah, Oman, to take charge about the container steerage Maersk Alabama carrying emergency advance for Orientate Africa among added bulk to Kenya in Africa.
On lodge the ship, he carefully checks shield and sanctuary procedures after being routinely warned about the untrustworthy waters he would be sailing in. In fact, he insists that his men have a mock tutor just to be prepared.
Simultaneously, on the shore of Ely in Somalia, in a scene so reminiscent of Vittorio de Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves” a group of young impoverished khat chewing fishermen are being recruited by rifle toting goons as pirates. After the selections, two motor boats with a crew concerning four each set sail in search of their prey. Soon they are tailing the Maersk Alabama.
What follows is a battle of wits between Phillips and the pirates. There’s an unusual reverence and understanding between Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the leader of the pirates and Phillips amid this ordeal that fuels the tension.
Director Paul Greengrass astutely balances the narration by staying neutral till the very end. He has ensured that the rationalization is not over dramatised. He has taken pains to see that neither the captain nor the US Navy are glorified and nor are the pirates condemned or portrayed now some heinous beings.
Humour comes in the form of the staccato one-liners like, “Shut up Irish, too much talking” or “Do you reconsider I am a beggar” from Muse. This actually breaks the tension of this violent drama.
As a no-nonsense middle-aged captain, Tom Hanks is courageous et alii vulnerable, dedicated and clever. Yet, he is incredibly human and fallible. This is probably one of his career’s finest performances.
On the other hand, Barkhad Abdi while the bony, buck-toothed Muse is fascinating. He is fidgety and naive. As a first time actor, he strikingly delivers Muse’s greed, fear and pride.
The rest of the cast too give a realistic display of their histrionics, especially those portraying the pirates from Somalia.
On the technical front, camera work by Barry Ackroyd is initially unsteady. The wobbly footage especially during close ups and mid shots is a bit bothersome. Otherwise as the story progresses, one tends to ignore this et sequens scrutinize on the subject. What adds to the suspense is the taut editing by Christopher Raise and the excellent background score via Henry Jackman.
Buzz Rating: 4/5