Paul Greengrass has once again lifted his docu-filming style on a pedestal while directing Captain Phillips, drama-action film based on a true story – captain’s memoirs.
After United 93, 2006 semi-docu drama about hijacked plane during the September 11 attacks, Paul found another serious issue to address through an old channel, but new leading guys, Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, actor and film director from Somalia.
Captain Phillips portrays a story of a captain of a cargo ship going through troubled international waters near uneasy Somali coast. Faced with Somali pirates, Tom Hanks, portraying a captain of the ship, delays attacks as efficient as possible until International Maritime Organization (IMO) and US Seals react.
Paul’s film intro has set a focus on a family momentum and a clear comparison between American and Somali lifestyle: on one side Somali pirates’ leaders choosing their ‘soldiers’, and on another side Hanks discussing his child’s potential employment issues with his wife, portrayed shortly by Catherine Keener. From this moment on we can feel that the story will unwrap as a competition, between Hanks and Somali pirates’ leader, Muse, phenomenally portrayed by Abdi.
Paul Greengrass’s semi-docu personal directing style is less evident at the beginning when we see footage from Abdi’s boat and his struggle to ‘show-off’ to his ‘soldiers’, but more evident in depiction of boats: fresh daylight cargo ship on one side and darkish Somali’s boat on another side.
Portrait of Hanks is magnificently edited through the piece, especially at the far ending when the agony on Hanks’s face is so spectacular that only because of those last 5 minutes I would suggest a Nomination for the Oscar.
With fantastic inner-ship simple cinematography by Barry Ackroyd (United 93, The Hurt Locker), and strong elements of poverty, international concerns, and third-world reality, I believe that Greengrass proved us once more how good he is in dealing with serious issues through 7th Art.
We often say that artists use their works to portray something fundamentally serious in an effective yet simple manner. It is safe to say that with Captain Phillips Paul Greengrass has succeeded.