A new mission has come across my desk as of late. The mission was to watch all of the movies nominated for “Best Picture” at the Oscars this year, and review them. I took on this mission because I do love watching movies, and really just wanted to see what were considered “Oscar quality” movies in this day and age. This year’s movies were; American Hustle, Captain Philips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Quite the lengthy list, and quite the assortment of movies I don’t tend to find myself watching. Naturally, upon taking this upon myself, I had already watched at least a couple of the movies in the list. Most recently it was Captain Philips; the recent Tom Hanks film based on actual events. The previews gave away a lot of the story and any real "surprises" that came along in the movie. I won't give my thoughts on movie previews as they are now, but in short, they give away far too much of the movies they represent.
The story starts by highlighting the boring life of Richard Philips (Tom Hanks) as he readies himself for his "shift" at the job we all know he has thanks to the previews. We watch him glancing through vague reports of pirating in the waters off of Africa, lending us the assumption that he must be going through that area. After an assortment of other monotonous tasks as he prepares, we finally see him on the ship.
It feels like it takes an exorbitantly long time to get through the story up to the point where the pirates take over. They highlight a lot on how much paranoia Captain Philips has about piracy, as if he was expecting what inevitably happened. The "defenses" of the ship to fend off pirates were relatively effective, until, naturally, a hole opened up, and gave access to the pirates. From there it was your typical hostage like situation, where the pirates demanded control of the boat, lead by a very young looking, and very thin, pirate named Muse (Barkhad Abdi) and his two cohorts in this crime.
This is where the "based on true events" began to be more believable. Up until now, the story seemed very canned and very a-typical to the build up of stories like this. Granted, yes, that is exactly what it was I am sure, I doubt the actual Richard Philips had any real recollection of the events before the piracy, so the writers took their liberties. I know we shouldn't expect believable reality in every movie, but I can't help wanting it.
The events of the rest of the movie were harrowing. The entirety of the experience and decision making on both the Captain's part, and the Somalian Pirates, were right on track with what you would expect from regular people. The mood of the movie is tense, and it is really easy to fall deep into the emotions of the people involved. Overall I would give this movie pretty high praise, however I won't go as far as to classify it under an arbitrary rating system.
The real question comes down to this, do I really believe that this film should have been nominated for best picture at the Oscar's? That is the entire basis of this review chain, and, for this movie, I will say yes. It held up very well, it kept my interest despite what could very easily have been a boring tale. I say, it is definitely worth a watch, it's on that wonderful red movie vending machine, Redbox. Check it out.