I'm not sure if it's because I already practically knew what would happen the entire movie from everything the trailers gave away (except the awesome last 20 minutes) or that it just got to hyped, I didn't fall in love with it like I thought I would. Now don't get me wrong, it is a very well made film (I have some issues with the pacing and other parts) but for me, I just didn't get that click that I was expecting, it was still very enjoyable though.
Captain Phillips is based on the true story of the man (Captain Phillips) who gets his cargo boat raided by pirates and has them take him hostage into a life boat in order to save his crew, the only problem is it honestly seemed like it took over a quarter of the movie before the pirates even get on the ship. There were some brilliant parts of suspense, however it was fairly inconsistent because of the pacing. Now, I am a guy who can take slow pacing, but there needs to be a purpose to it, there were so many purposeless cuts and long shots that honestly were just there to add running time to the film, it made the film constantly teeter on being engaging and being boring. What's especially important is that this is a fairly recent true story, most people know what happened, so when Greengrass takes so much time to build it gets tedious at points. Now, the movie slowly picks up pace as it goes, but what baffled me is why he didn't spend more camera time on the actual meat of the story inside the lifeboat. There were so many moments in that lifeboat that were bordering on brilliant, they just needed more time given to them, they were cut short, while the part that should have moved faster was given way to much time.
The screenplay in this movie honestly has a very valid point to serve besides just going down the typical true story thriller path (although it does that as well), it brings subtle humanity to the Somalian pirates, and I have deep respect with how they conveyed that. The Somalian pirates were just gruntman trying to get out of their desperate situation, thinking (and believing) they'd get pay from the warlords if they brought back the ship like the warlords said. I was a big fan at how the screenplay was able to invoke a slight sense of sympathy to the villains of the story to portray them as humans, but also not going down the opposite end of the spectrum and placing complete and utter pity on them, it was very well written.
Next, the performances were also spot on, they were probably some of the highlights of the movie. However it applies again that the performances were at their best in the last act of the movie, just like how the most engaging part was the last act, before that they were solid, it was in that act that they became great. It just goes to show, some films really don't need to be 2 and half hours long to be great, in fact it's the massive length with little substance in the first half that really drives the movie into just being good, instead of being something better, more impactful.
I mentioned the last act above, so I'll go onto to say that the last act is what completely saves the movie for me, it was done brilliantly and had just the right amount of substance, while the last 25 minutes or so brought out an outstanding performance from Hanks. Honestly, go see the movie for the last 30 minutes of it, the ending is powerful, and it is what is inevitably driving my rating upwards.
Now, don't let this review come across as if I didn't like the movie (I really did think it was good), but it was disappointing to say the least in that it could have been outstanding, I saw so many moments of brilliance, but they could often at times get overshadowed by the shaky cam, and odd pacing with little substance. Overall, Captain Phillips has some engaging moments, a very smart screenplay, and a bombastic last act that delivers Oscar worthy performances, but it is ultimately boggled down by inconsistent direction by Greengrass.
7.5/10 Sticks of Bamboo
Side Note: Barkhad Abdi delivers a stunning breakout performance in the film, it's worth the ticket for him alone.