NYFF 2013: CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Review

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In the past, director Paul Greengrass has demonstrated a unique and incredible ability to use a documentary-like style that captures the immediacy of a real-life event without ever feeling like a heavy-handed, exploitative dramatization.  Greengrass attempts to bring this approach to his new film, Captain Phillips, but instead of focusing on an event that changed the course of a country, he tries to keep the focus on two men.  Unfortunately, he has no room to maneuver, and his fidelity to Richard Phillips’ story handcuffs the film into a cold procedural.  Strong performances from the lead actors as well Greengrass’ intelligent depiction of neglected people helps draws us in, but the film tries too hard to play up the “thrilling” action, which only highlights how little investment we have in the hostage and his captor.

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