With such films as Bloody Sunday and United 93, Paul Greengrass has shown a strong ability to capture true stories in a way that are very genuine but nonetheless heart-pounding. With his latest film, Captain Phillips, Greengrass tells the story of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali Pirates. The film is multi-focused, following the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Philips, and the Somali pirate captain, Muse, who takes him hostage. Captain Phillips is a very fast-paced and intense film that doesn't feel even close to its 135 minute running time. That being said, the film feels epic in scale, with Greengrass creating a truly immersive experience as the audience watches this story unfold. The film never slogs in the slightest though, delivering an emotional ride that touches on the myriad effects of globalization. Early on in the film, Greengrass spends equal time with both Richard and Muse, capturing the very different worlds they both come from while also showcasing how they are both dealing with an ever-changing world around them. While Muse is not a "good person" we grasp his struggle in life but the film never goes too far in trying to become to sentimental for the character either. The story is tight and balances its themes and characters well but the dialogue is without question the weak-link of the film. There were quite a few scenes in the film that just felt forced, particularly an opening bit between Rich and his wife, or a little too "on the nose" for my liking. Captain Phillips is a return to strong filmmaking for Greengrass after the putrid Green Zone proving once again his ability to create a thrilling and somewhat thought-provoking film.
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