The Conversation

Long, slow build, sudden ending

In response to 'Captain Phillips' Movie Sucked:

I had that thought about the "drawn out, long, boring" part of the film - it seemed like the sort of narrative lint trap fiction writers would avoid.  You don't put together a movie about the hijacking of a huge cargo ship and then dump the audience into a tiny lifeboat for 45 minutes.  You want SEAL Team Six parachuting right onto that cargo ship and fighting a deadly cat-and-mouse battle against the wily and capable terrorists, at least one of whom should know kung fu.  And if the hero of the story doesn't polish off the head terrorist by throwing him off the bridge, leaving him paralyzed on impact and subsequently crushed by cargo container sliding around in rough seas, you're doing it wrong.

But of course, that's not what really happened.  The movie was faithful enough to reality to embrace the dramatic flaws imposed upon the narrative by history.  Which makes the points where it did edit history to preserve its narrative doubly annoying.  As I mentioned previously, enough of the Maersk Alabama crew's blowback against "Captain Phillips" is supported by documentation to make the entire enterprise deeply suspect as a historical document.  I'm not necessarily inclined to take everything said by either the crew or the Captain on faith, but a lot of what the crew is saying doesn't have to be taken on faith - they can prove it.

Which makes me feel a bit cheated for having enjoyed a good deal of the film, including some very watchable work from Tom Hanks.  I saw it with some friends who knew the general outlines of how Phillips was rescued, but still gasped in astonishment when they saw it happen in the film (an element of the production which, as far as I know, was reasonably accurate.)  I found myself thinking, "I hope to God SEAL Team Six never finds it necessary to erase me," but took comfort in the knowledge that I probably wouldn't feel a thing.

To each their own - this wasn't a brain-melting roller-coaster ride like "Gravity," but I like slow-burn tension too.


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