Captain Phillips ★★

Seriously, y’all? This is an pretty silly film, beginning with the first 10 minutes of hilarious exposition (“Awr kids arr gunna graw up en a vaary different waarld than awwrs, Awndrea,”— Hanks abandons that accent pretty much after that), followed by the most unspecific visit to a Somalian village ever. Someone made the point that it smartly doesn’t set up any obvious signifiers, except that it doesn’t set up much of anything, so the half-assed lip service that these kids have to do this to survive, but that desperation is only talked about, not really shown. It actually finds a little bit of a rhythm once the boat takes off, and Greengrass gets two excellent sequences with the actual hijacking, which is interesting because you see the various maneuvers that these boats can use without actually firing weapons, and slightly because his signature visual style works strongly in bigger set pieces.

But once Hanks gets in that lifeboat, this is a series of choppy close-ups with very little spatial coherence (Hanks is in Seat 15, but I have no fucking clue where Seat 15 is in relation to the driver (who is always seen from profile, so it makes it look like he’s driving sideways?)). Hanks moves from sort of level-headed crafty man (his forte) to over-bloated baby (not his forte)—this isn’t his fault, but there’s something uninteresting to me about overacting and over-emoting outside of classical Hollywood (for a sense of what acting is interesting to me, see my Muriels ballot from last year). Add to that the jingoistic shots of Navy SEALS diving from the sky, which directly recalls the strangely much more elegant scene in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and more, and blah (Matt Prigge tried to convince me that the whole patriotism thing is ironic, but nothing about the tone suggests that I should take anything as ironic…you have to dig inexcusably deep for any meaning here). Anyways, I think there’s a serious debate that needs to be had about inherently tense situations and filming them—does Greengrass actually heighten the tension of the raw materials of the fact? I found myself bored during the last 30 minutes, chuckling with each Inception-style BRAAAAAAHM on the soundtrack.

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