I was not initially blown away by the trailers for CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, but I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong. This harrowing and thrilling film builds and sustains tension so expertly that even watching it at home on a screener, I was left breathless.
Dealing with the events of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates, Director Paul Greengrass presents the story in a very even-handed, allowing room for the audience to form their own opinion of the why and the how.
As you would gather from the title, the film centers on Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his desperate attempt to protect his crew and cargo from four Somali pirates, led by their Captain Muse (Barkhad Abdi). When they take Phillips hostage in a lifeboat, the situation worsens and resolving the crisis peacefully becomes less and less likely.
The movie belongs to Tom Hanks. I know he is one of the world’s most beloved actors, but I find him very hit and miss and lately he hasn’t inspired me. He is incredible as Captain Phillips. One of his best performances in years if not ever. His mounting desperation as the situation draws to a head is palpable. It leaps off the screen and grabs you by the throat to the point where you’re experiencing the circumstances with him. It’s exceptional in its raw humanity and it’s a performance that equals Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 YEARS A SLAVE.
I always appreciate a film that exceeds my expectations and though not my favorite film of the year, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is certainly a friendly port in an ocean of so many choices.