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Paul Greengrass
Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman
Writing Credits:
Billy Ray

Somali pirates hijack a US freighter.

Box Office:
$55 million.
Opening Weekend
$25,718,314 on 3020 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 1/21/2014

• Audio Commentary With Director Paul Greengrass
• “Capturing Captain Phillips” Documentary
• Previews
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Captain Phillips [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 6, 2019)

Best-known for his successful chapters of the Bourne franchise, Paul Greengrass took on a true story via 2013’s Captain Phillips. Set in 2009, we meet Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), the captain of an American cargo ship.

When the vessel nears Somali waters, pirates led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) take over the boat and demand ransom. Faced with a mix of challenges, Captain Phillips does what he can to keep his crew alive.

As I note whenever I review a Greengrass flick, I refuse to see his work theatrically due to his reliance on “shakycam”. This becomes less of a stylistic criticism and more of a nausea-based concern, as the camerawork in Greengrass's films literally makes me sick when viewed on a large screen.

I can stomach his material on a TV, though. I’ve seen most of Greengrass’s movies but haven’t ventured to a multiplex for one since 2006’s United 93 left me all googly in the moogly.

My inability to see Phillips on a large screen came as the biggest disappointment, though. While I never much cared for Greengrass’s take on the Bourne tales, I liked 93 and thought Phillips boasted the potential to become a good history-based thriller in the same vein.

Happily, it does so. Phillips lacks the same emotional punch of 93 - how could it? – but the movie nonetheless becomes a pretty good dramatic exploration of its subject matter.

Though admittedly a flick with a pretty basic plot, one that might seem insufficient to sustain a 134-minute movie. A simple story at its roots doesn’t need to become a problem though.

After all, the 132-minute Die Hard can be reduced to a similarly brief synopsis. No one ever accused that movie of an inability to fill its running time with action, though, and I doubt anyone refers to Phillips as padded, either.

Much of that comes from the interaction between Abdi and Hanks, as both create compelling characters. I like that Phillips refuses to turn the Somalis into generic “bad guys”, and Abdi brings a sense of humanity to the fore.

Granted, the film doesn’t allow for a lot of depth in terms of how it depicts the Somalis, but it gives them enough life and personality that we can empathize with them. Again, Abdi excels in this regard, as he musters the appropriate attitudes for the various ways the part requires him to embrace.

Hanks rarely turns in a bad performance, and he provides typically strong work as our title character. He manages to run through the wide mix of emotions the part requires and does so in a believable manner.

Greengrass moves the film along at a good pace and churns a lot of tension out of the circumstances. While not non-stop action, the film keeps us on edge much of the time, and it fulfills its goals as a thriller.

Unfortunately, Greengrass continues to cling to his affection for sloppy camerawork, so his patented super-shakycam abounds in Phillips. I admit that this choice makes more sense for this film and 93 than it did for the Bourne tales, as the factually-based movies can more aptly benefit from the “documentary-style” approach.

Nonetheless, the camera jiggles and jutters and jerks so much that it becomes a distraction. A little handheld goes a long way, and Greengrass's insistence that the movie always use super-shakycam turns into a weakness.

Even with that concern, I like Captain Phillips a lot. It delivers a taut, tense tale that ensures our involvement from start to finish.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Captain Phillips appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, the movie enjoyed a high-quality transfer.

Some variations occurred due to photographic choices, mainly because the filmmakers elected to shoot some scenes – mainly those with the pirates pre-attack – 16mm. Those could seem a little tentative but they still offered pretty good delineation.

Othetwise, sharpness usually seemed strong. A smidgen of softness crept into the occasional wide shot, but those instances remained modest and created little to detract from this well-defined image. I saw no moiré effects or jaggies, and neither edge haloes nor print flaws marred the proceedings.

Like most modern action flicks, Phillips heavily favored amber and teal. These choices may be tedious, but the Blu-ray reproduced them in a satisfying manner.

Blacks were dense and dark, while low-light shots offered smooth imaging. Even with the anomalies due to the 16mm elements, this still became a satisfying presentation.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a pretty high-octane mix. With a lot of action sequences, the various channels got a good workout and used the spectrum well.

These sequences took advantage of their opportunities. In particular, scenes on the water fared best, as these elements blended around the room in a dynamic manner. I also thought gunfire and other violent components used the soundfield well, and all this opened up matters to create a lively setting for the action.

Audio quality seemed strong. Music was peppy and full, and speech appeared natural and distinctive.

Effects offered good bang for the buck, as those elements showed nice clarity and dynamic range. The soundtrack complemented the movie well.

A few extras appear, and we open with an audio commentary from director Paul Greengrass. He brings a running, screen-specific look at story/characters and the real-life events, cast and performances, music, editing and camerawork, sets and locations, stunts and action.

Overall, Greengrass provides a good commentary. During the movie’s final act, he tends to lapse into narration mode, but he still adds enough useful material to make this a worthwhile chat.

Capturing Captain Phillips runs 58 minutes, 16 seconds and includes comments from Greengrass, Captain Richard Phillips, executive producer Gregory Goodman, cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, co-producer Michael Bronner, and actors Tom Hanks, Michael Chernus, Corey Johnson, Yul Vazquez, David Warshofsky, Chris Mulkey, Faysal Ahmed, and Barkhad Abdi.

“Capturing” examines the real events behind the film and its path to the screen, story/characters, sets, ships and locations, photography, Greengrass’s style and rehearsals/takes. It also covers cast and performances, stunts and action.

While “Capturing” doesn’t attempt a full overview of the production, it touches on a lot of good topics, and it does so in a rich manner. Its 58 minutes fly by during this strong documentary.

The disc opens with ads for Monuments Men, American Hustle and Last Vegas. Previews adds promos for Inside Llewyn Davis and The Armstrong Lie, but we get no trailer for Phillips.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Phillips. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

An evocative take on a harrowing true story, Captain Phillips works well. While I remain less than excited with the director’s camera choices, the movie still becomes a vivid exploration of the drama. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio along with informative bonus materials. This ends up as a satisfying experience.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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