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NYFF Review: Paul Greengrass Takes You Hostage In The Desperately Harrowing ‘Captain Phillips’

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • September 27, 2013 11:00 AM
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Captain Phillips
Comparing oranges and apples tends not to be conducive to any critical discourse, but to get something off my chest that I can’t shake (and hopefully provides some convincing context), in the fall sweepstakes to create the most gripping, immersive and emotionally resonant survival tale, Paul Greengrass’ “Captain Phillips” has the surprisingly thematically similar “Gravity” licked. With apologies to Alfonso Cuaron’s film, which I enjoyed, the buzzier effort may be an enveloping visual tour-de-force, but the one (wo)man-against-the-universe endurance saga in space lacks in character development and genuinely convincing emotional stakes. These are not, however, narrative areas that “Captain Phillips” is deficient in. In fact, its character and rich emotional layers are what elevates the film from a precisely-told absorbing thriller into something much more potent and powerful: a breathtakingly harrowing tale of survival and grueling desperation that redefines the term “nailbiter.”

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