What makes us want to see a film? The story or the star? Ideally, it's a combination of both. In this case, at least for me, it was to see Tom Hanks. He strikes me as a man of action, compassion and human decency. Someone who stands tall in the pantheon of great Hollywood actors.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is allegedly based on the true story of a Captain of a freighter bound for Mombasa which must pass through Somalian waters infected with pirates. Phillips and his crew is held under the threat of death unless the ship's owners pay millions of dollars in ransom. Tense? You bet!
Unfortunately Hanks would be better cast as Captain of a cruise ship sailing calm Caribbean waters.
A predictable drama unfolds about oppressed hostages featuring Captain Phillips as the centerpiece of the opposition. To enhance our compassion for Hanks, director Paul Greengrass shoots overly long close-ups to inspire audience sympathy as Hanks cries out in pain as he suffers a life threatening wound. The shot is milked.
This throws the film off center and suddenly seems like a grab for an Oscar worthy performance. Alas it doesn't work.