Movie Journal
J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

“Captain Phillips”: Action and Ordeal

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Between his artfully verité docudramas (“Bloody Sunday” and “United 93”) and Matt Damon-ized conspiratorial thrillers (“The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and “Green Zone”), Paul Greengrass is arguably the best action director working today — and “Captain Phillips, opening October 11 following its New York Film Festival world premiere, only strengthens the case.

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Comments

  1. I would have thought you, of all people, would take exception to or at least address the questionable appropriateness of this film: a heroic white American man being beseiged by a gang of violent black savages. This film really needed to be made, at this time?

  2. Thanks for the comment. The movie has an undeniable racial, as well as nationalist, component. What I should have stressed is that in “Captain Phillips” (unlike “Black Hawk Down”), the Somalis are individuated and not wholly unsympathetic. Greengrass was able to do something similar with the terrorists in “United 93″ but here it is more pronounced. Their piracy is given an economic motive; there is a suggestion that the Hanks character survives in part because he able to successfully enlist the pirate leader’s human solidarity. That this identification is not reciprocated by the Navy SEALS is made amply apparent.

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