Dose of Buffa Movie Review Special

Before the Cards completely take over my day and I go deep into World Series analysis, here are a couple movies I had the chance to watch in the past week.   Captain Phillips and Escape Plan.   Two films that couldn’t be any different or swim towards a more diverse audience.  One is a true story Oscar contender about the hijacking of a boat(or the soul of a few men for their lives) and the other involves two heavies from the action blood drunk 80’s finally sharing the screen for an entire film.   Which one did I love and which one can I easily say can wait for the DVD racks?   Find out next.



Directed by Paul Greengrass

Starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi

Quick Setup-Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates.

Buffa’s Blunt Take-This is a superb thriller for many reasons and a movie that won’t soon leave your memory.   A lot of movies, even the good ones, quickly leave you memory once you leave the theater or watch something else.  Captain Phillips hasn’t left my head just yet.

One of the things this movie does so well is maintain a frenetic pace for its entire 134 minute running time and it keeps you engaged and on the edge of your seat.  All it takes is a google search to find out what happened to Captain Phillips and his crew aboard the Maerska, Alabama, a U.S. container ship, when Somali Pirates tried to overthrow it for money.  Director Paul  Greengrass has the ability to keep you guessing whereas to the conclusion of this horrifically tragic story.  He directed the last two Bourne films and this movie has the same level of intensity and forward thinking of Greengrass’ 9/11 film, United 93.

Dealing with a true event that placed a lot of innocent men in danger, Greengrass doesn’t shy away from the perspective of the Somali Pirates here.    They aren’t cardboard cutout villains but portrayed as real people with an unfortunate agenda and that is one based in robbery.

The arrival of new actor Abdi is key here because his face could tell a thousand words about desperation and depravity.   Hanks is phenomenal here but he has key scenes with Abdi that resonate because of how great the men play together.  One man comes from entitlement and the other from a source of criminal livelihood yet both are determined and hard working.   Whose will will break fist is the heart and soul of these tale?

Hanks once again is just marvelous here and it’s what he holds back behind those quietly heroic eyes that keeps you enthralled.  Don’t be mistaken, this is the Tom Hanks show and we are all the better for it.  The rookie actor who specialized in comedies has developed into a powerhouse name that can easily slip into any role and dominate.  Hanks saves his best for last in the movie’s final scene.  Sitting cold and shaken on a medic table, paralyzed by traumatic occurrence, Phillips slowly breaks down after holding it together for days and it’s so penetrating and emotional that you feel as wounded as he does.  Credit Hanks with taking us there.  It’s an Oscar worthy performance.  Saying that with a Hanks role is like saying when you step near an ocean your feet will get wet.

See this movie.  Forget about what really happened.  The movie is adapted from Phillips’ account in his book, and sitting there running through the details isn’t worth your effort.  This is a cinematic adaptation of a true story.  Expect a little push and give here and there in the telling of the tale.  Ride the wave with Hanks here and when you step off this ship Greengrass’ film will stay with you.   A great movie is like a virus.  It infects your system for days.



Directed by Mikael Hafstrom

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Vinnie Jones and Vincent D’ Onofrio

Quick Setup-Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a prison security specialist who finds himself locked inside one of his own facilities and must team up with a mysterious fellow prisoner in Emil(Schwarzenegger) to find a way out.

Buffa’s Blunt Take-Save this one for DVD.  While the thrill of seeing two action legends tangle on the big screen and share some scenes together is a good site and makes for a light entertaining guilty pleasure, there’s no way I will tell you pencil this in for a theater visit.  It’s best served at home on your television, where you can pause it, take a break, get some dinner going, and come back to it.   Seen at once, the plot becomes too complex for its own good and takes away from the fun of watching Sly and Arnold exchange macho dialogue and funny one liners.   One scene in particular reins as the finest moment and that is when FINALLY, these two guys exchange punches.  Hearing Arnold tell Sly, “You hit like a vegetarian” is something I won’t forget but the rest of the movie is quite amateur.  This movie would have been killer in the late 1980’s when these two were at the top of their game.  Now, it’s like watching a couple of old lions put on the same tired uniform and after 45 minutes, it gets a little dull.

That’s all for now.  Two Film-Addict specials here on A Dose of Buffa.  Come back next week for my take on Last Vegas.  Until then, stay tuned for more Cardinals blogging leading up to Game 1 of the 2013 World Series between the Cards and the Red Sox.

-Dan L. Buffa

@buffa82 on Twitter

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