Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) of the MV Maerk Alabama has orders to sail his ship in the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa, round the Horn of Africa. This takes the ship right off of the Coast of Somalia where there has been a large increase in pirate activity. In order to keep safe and vigilant, the captain has the entire crew running the company provided procedures if they’re attacked by pirates.
While doing a drill, suddenly two skiffs are approaching fast and on the radio, the Captain pretends to call in Naval air support because he know the pirates are listening. His hope is that the thought of approaching support might make them rethink their actions. One of the skiffs has engine problems and the other one retreats. The next day, only one skiff with three men armed to the teeth is quickly approaching. The procedures for a pirate ship is to lockdown the deck, the bridge and link up water hoses that surround the ship and deter the pirates from attaching to the vessel. With some time, the pirates come on board and now the captain has to plan his next move.
The film is directed by Paul Greengrass his films have a noticeable style. Just like with some of his previous films, he uses a hand-held technique that I find immerses you in the situation. From what I understand, the writer and director made some changes to the story but that happens with films about true events. Sometimes when a story is told exactly how it happened, it might not have the same entertainment value and looses some things in translation. So the trick is to keep reality as a base to start with and build from there. Tom Hanks did a great job playing a character that has to constantly think on his feet and carry pretty much the entire movie. Unfortunately, the best scene that he did was at the very end where, from what I read, he improvised most of it. The other real talent is Barkhad Abdi, who played the leader of the pirates. This was the Somali-American actor’s first movie and his abilities got him various film award nominations that include the Academy Awards’ Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His character had to be ruthless but not like his cohorts. He had a soft side because he just wanted the money, not to kill anyone. The rest of the supporting cast played theirs parts and kept the film just grounded enough but very intense.
Directors and Cast
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Tom Hanks as Capt. Richard Phillips
Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse
Catherine Keener as Andrea Phillips
Faysal Ahmed as Najee
Michael Chernus as Shane Murphy
David Warshofsky as Mike Perry, chief engineer
Corey Johnson as Ken Quinn, helmsman
It safe to assume most of the new releases from Sony are going to be “mastered in 4k” to present the best possible resolution on Blu-ray. Hopefully, others will follow suit to keep the industry moving. The details are so incredible that Sony is really setting a new standard for Blu-rays to be authored. The colorings of the wide daytime ocean shots make the water look so inviting and natural that it looks like you’re seeing it in person. Some of the images leap off of the screen and almost have a 3D effect with how well the depth is presented. Onboard the freighter, the hues of the different decks and clothing are brilliant with great separation. The only negative bit that I saw was during some of the lower limit scenes, there is some contrasting issues and black crushing in the shadows. It doesn’t take away from the film but it is worth mentioning. Minus the issues, the mastered in 4k picture looks excellent.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sounds incredible. It’s a lossless soundtrack with incredible depth and intricate details. The ambient sounds are present but the really impressive points are during the scenes on the Alabama. The rushing water when the skiffs are in pursuit of the cargo ship completely sets the scene. No matter which boat is on the water, the ambient sounds of the engine and cutting through the water are very realistic. There is never any doubt of being at sea because of the consistent background noise.
The score is easy to distinguished with the multiple elements for the mix. It has a robust presence and clarity in every channel. But my absolute favorite element is the surprisingly loud horn the navy blares to announce their presence. Not only did the entire room shake but it startled me a bit because it was so sudden. “Lossless” is the perfect title for the audio.
Even thought there are only a few special features in the release, they are incredibly informative and go in depth about the production of the film.
-Audio Commentary with Director Paul Greengrass: the director gives an informative commentary about the film. He discusses pretty much every detail about the movie with one of the best commentaries (information wise) on a release that I’ve heard. Also to note that there are subtitles for the commentary.
-Capturing Captain Phillips: This is a 3-part featurette that tells how the film came together:
Embarkation: This part tells the true story for the film, the director’s style and how he gets things ready for the days of shooting.
Full Ahead: This portion discusses the challenges of filming on the open sea, the real ship and how the crew did an amazing job.
Stand Fast: This portion discusses the lifeboat and how they created a dramatic third act. Also on how the last scene in the movie was unscripted and how it is probably the best scene in the film.
Previews: These are previews of upcoming Sony titles.
Two-disc set includes 1 BD and 1 DVD
UltraViolet digital copy
Slipcover in original pressing
1080p AVC MPEG-4
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Captain Philips is a movie that rides that tension line, holding it strong from start to finish. It wasn’t a movie with a long beginning but it got straight to the point and jumped right into what the audience wanted to see. The video is impressive and the audio mix sounds incredible as well. Greengrass did an excellent job of bringing this story to the masses in a well made film. I recommend adding this film to your collection without hesitations.