Before I proceed, I acknowledge that there are some out there who say that the film and the source material it came from are false and fabricated by the titular Captain Phillips. Regardless of whatever controversies this film might have gotten, I am giving my thoughts on Captain Phillips as a film and not a documentary.
That said, I think that the documentary approach to the film-making, while efficient in the first half of the film, kinda outstayed its welcome in the latter half. Don’t get me wrong: the film was decent, suspense-filled, and well-acted (though I would have to say that Tom Hanks‘s performance in Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, and Cast Away would still be the gold standard). Unfortunately, I get the feeling that it was maybe a bit too overlong, especially in the second half once Captain Phillips got himself kidnapped by the pirates.
The best parts of the film would have to be the initial hijacking attempt, and the actual hijacking. If anything, director Paul Greengrass deserves an Oscar just for those two scenes alone (emphasis on the word ALONE). The dynamics of trying to defend a merchant vessel without using guns is hard enough to imagine, yet the film’s presentation of it (editing, Henry Jackman‘s score, and cinematograph) makes for an extremely suspenseful sequence which in the hands of a less-talented director would border on parody.
The problem was just the film got a bit dragged on in the last 40 minutes or so. I think maybe the director was opting for a very documentary approach to it, but somehow it got tiring. It could be argued that this is the point; to make us feel the fatigue that Phillips and the Somali pirates felt during that time and it might not be an issue for others, but for me at least, it felt like a punishment.
Overall, this film is still a recommended watch. It might not be Paul Greengrass’s best film (it would still be United 93 and , arguably, The Bourne Supremacy) but this is still something you guys ought to see.