Archives for posts with tag: Escape Plan

Captain Phillips

An exceptional naval thriller based on the actual 2009 kidnapping of Captain Richard Phillips by Somalian pirates, Captain Phillips (2013) marks yet another career highlight for capable star Tom Hanks. Taut, exciting, and scary throughout, the film succeeds largely due to the presence of Hanks in the likable lead. Also contributing to its impact, however, is the presence of such ugly, menacing blacks in the roles of the antagonists, particularly Barkhad Abdi as pirate ringleader Abduwali Muse. Any self-respecting white person watching this movie will be terrified.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Captain Phillips is:

7. Ostensibly egalitarian. As a fig leaf to cover its obviously obscene racism, the film includes a line about how Somalian men have no economic opportunities apart from fishing and piracy, the former option being limited after western fishing vessels have depleted their waters’ stock of fish. The poor, disadvantaged chaps just happened to have the bad luck of growing up in a dangerous environment exacerbated by the West’s capitalist imperialism.

6. Pro-drone. A “Scan Eagle” conducts surveillance as part of the mission to rescue the captain.

5. Pro-family. Phillips’s thoughts are with his family during what may be his last moments on earth.

4. Pro-gun. A valid complaint from the crew is that their ship has no weapons with which to repulse the invaders.

3. Pro-military. Navy SEALs enact the role of the proverbial cavalry coming to the rescue.

2. Neoconservative. Set in March of 2009, shortly after the inauguration of Obama, the film features an early scene in which Phillips exchanges nervous remarks with his wife about the changing nature of the times. In production during the presidential election year of 2012, Captain Phillips benefited from serendipitous onomastic circumstances of the historical Phillips narrative. The Navy dispatches the USS Bainbridge and USS Halyburton to intercept the hijackers and retrieve Captain Phillips. How perfect is that? Bain Capital and Halliburton speed to the rescue of white America, held hostage by African terrorist Muslims just like President Obama! Good thing the U.S. has so much world police man and materiel invested in the Middle East, as well, or else Captain Phillips might not have been saved so quickly – if it all!

1. Racist! Mainstream political discourse disallows Republicans from discussing race in any but the most mincing and counterproductive of terms. Suppressed neoconservative racism, consequently, can only express itself as hatred of foreign Muslims or else encrypt itself as is the case with the thinly veiled subtext of Captain Phillips. A ship is a world unto itself, and just as the prison vessel in Escape Plan (2013) works as a floating microcosm of the American police state, so the Maersk Alabama functions as a representation of an American polity subject to a demographic shit-hurricane. Just as Bull Connor, Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety during the 60s, tried to be civil and used restraint in only hosing revolting congoids who invaded his community, so the moderate captain of the Maersk Alabama hopes to stave off the pirate attack by holding their boat at bay with his ship’s several powerful hoses. As Montgomery fell to the blacks, however, the Alabama is boarded and occupied by the party of Africans.

“Is this how you do business?” Phillips asks as the invaders brandish their weapons. The pirates, like American blacks, take from others to further their parasitic mode of living. Like American blacks, too, they are never satisfied. After flash-mobbing the ship and being offered $30,000 to leave, they demand millions more and take a hostage to ensure that they receive it. (“When we get paid, everything gon be OK.”) Negotiation with the savages – in other words, more political moderation and compromise, disingenuous dialogue, hand-wringing, and flattery, as Phillips advises his men to “make them feel like they’re in charge” – is of course futile, and only results in the good-natured captain being kidnapped. A third vessel participating in the Phillips rescue mission along with the USS Bainbridge and USS Halyburton is the USS Boxer, significantly a “Wasp-class” amphibious assault ship, a designation further emphasizing the racially informed nature of the conflict. The Somalian pirates – again, like America’s blacks – are prone to self-pity and bickering, prompting Captain Phillips in a moment of candor to tell them, “Your problem is you.”

The lesson to be had from Captain Phillips? Communities, like ships, should be armed and ready to fight to keep out the undesirables.

Escape Plan

Sylvester Stallone, who previously suffered and grunted to great effect in the excellent Lock Up (1989), gets thrown into the slammer again in Escape Plan as Ray Breslin, the Harry Houdini of incarceration. Breslin is so adept at egress from maximum security penitentiaries that he actually makes his living at it, hiring out his services to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and going undercover in different correctional institutions across the country to test their tightness. Breslin finds himself in the bind of his life when he agrees to try his hand at the Tomb, a CIA-commissioned, privately operated black prison “off the grid” and designed for containing dissidents the government would prefer to see “disappeared”. This time Breslin’s sentence is more than a game.

A gray-haired Arnold Schwarzenegger plays second fiddle to Stallone’s hero, but does add considerably to the fun of the film. He is given one moment of greatness equal to his larger-than-life persona when, in testosterone-mainlining slow motion, he levels a machine gun and mows down a gallery of disposable baddies. Jim Caviezel, unfortunately, is inadequate to the task of furnishing proper antagonism for the likes of the two leading titans. Sam Neill collects a paycheck for playing a tiny supporting role as the prison’s doctor, while Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson keeps it real representin’ the African-American computer genius community as Breslin’s loyal “techno-thug” Hush.

Escape Plan has exactly two things going for it: Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The script is lame and about as original as the title, with typical lines of dialogue being, “You hit like a vegetarian”; “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you, motherfucker!”; and, still more amazing, this brilliantly sarcastic coup of a zinger: “Have a lovely day, asshole.” Weaknesses aside, the story is fast-paced, the performances are fun, and the dynamite action combo of Stallone and Schwarzenegger will be a difficult one for fans to resist.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Escape Plan is:

7. Anti-tobacco. A guard’s routine of taking a smoke break causes him to be distracted.

6. Pro-miscegenation. The streets of New Orleans teem with interraciality.

5. Anti-Christian. Schwarzenegger, putting on a show of insanity for the guards, spouts religious nonsense in German. Stallone tears a page out of a Bible and burns it.

4. Anti-torture. Guards pummel Stallone and force water down Schwarzenegger’s throat with a hose.

3. Anti-neoconservative. The Tomb, with its savagery, high-tech surveillance, and disregard for citizens’ constitutional rights, serves as a microcosm of life in post-9/11 America. Giving the lie to the Islam-bashers, Muslim prisoners are violent only when they are provoked.

2. Anti-cronyism/anti-capitalistic. The Tomb is operated by “Blackwater rejects” who do the dirty work of corrupt, authoritarian governments and international bankers. “From a financial standpoint I like it,” Breslin’s business partner (Vincent D’Onofrio) says on hearing about the Tomb and the money he stands to make by cooperating with the CIA. Schwarzenegger is an anarchist or revolutionary of some sort who seeks to bring down the financial establishment.

1. Anti-state. The Tomb is administered by the significantly monickered Mr. Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), who boasts, “In here you have no control over any part of your life, except your breathing.” Of interest, too, is the deindividuated design of the brutal prison screws, who wear S.W.A.T.-flavored get-ups and charcoal-black masks with Caucasian features. Could this be a commentary on the reality of life under fake black president B.O., whose ballyhooed skin color masks exactly the same opportunism that motivated his predecessors in office?

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