Captain Phillips (2013) Directed by Paul Greengrass. Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman. IMDB says: “The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.”
Captain Phillips is the latest Tom Hanks film. A film that some are calling his best since Castaway which premiered more than 13 years ago. Based on a true story, the film centers around the real life shipping captain Richard Phillips. Embarking on a journey around the horn of Africa, Phillips and crew recognize there is some risk of a pirate attack. Not far off the coast of Somalia, those fears are realized when a group of 4 Somali pirates pursue and board the large container ship. What follows is a true story of heroism and drama.
The film is expertly directed by Paul Greengrass, who you may know from United 93 and the last two installments of the Bourne series. The cuts between the two settings involved in much of the film serve to create a sense of realism and show the story from all angles. The director also employs very effective panning shots which nicely frame what is happening at the center of the action. The set quality is also very good, especially considering the films relatively low $55 million budget which it is sure to recoup very quickly at the box office.
The story is well written, something that cannot always be said for an adaptation of a true story. The film’s writer, Billy Ray, also adapted scripts for The Hunger Games and State of Play. The dialogue is especially effective, including the subtitled Somali conversations. I actually think that speech adds an element of fear or uneasiness to the film when the viewer realizes that the characters have no idea what is being said all around them. This brings me to the best part of them film, the acting.
I mentioned at the top of this review that critics are calling this Tom Hanks best role since Castaway which debuted in the year 2000. Surprisingly, that may not be much of an exaggeration. With no compelling supporting actors, Hanks really steals the show by bringing to life the true story of Captain Phillips. The dialogue, the emotion, the sheer sense of fear in his voice, it’s all there. It can safely be said that this would be a lesser film were it not for Hank’s contribution. It’s also worth mentioning that the lead Somali Pirate, Muse, is played by Bakhad Abdi who also delivers a compelling performance albeit to a lesser extent.
All in all, this is a very well made, highly polished film that is absolutely worth the watch.
OVERALL SCORE: 84%