Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman
Release Date: 18th October
This biopic comes in slightly under the radar, which is surprising considering that Tom Hanks stars as the titular protagonist, Captain Richard Phillips, with Paul Greengrass directing; adding to an impressive resumé which includes Green Zone, two instalments of the Bourne franchise and the 9/11-centric United 93.
Like United 93, this film is based on a true story; that of Richard Phillips, the captain of a cargo ship taken hostage by Somali pirates seeking millions in ransom money.
The plot is gripping and excellently translated to the screen by Billy Ray, who also co-wrote The Hunger Games. Greengrass’ shaky camera style combined with the fact that this was filmed on the open seas means that the sense of veracity, and of being in the midst of the action is carried through from beginning to end.
In the opening moment, we see Hanks apprehensively board the cargo vessel. Set against the Somali pirates boarding two skiffs, this establishes the two forces on a collision course of which the resulting impact is both riveting and grim.
As indicated by the movie’s title, the bulk of the story focuses on Tom Hanks’ character, Captain Phillips. The story is plot driven, but Hanks draws us emotionally into the story in a scene with his wife at the beginning and with the film’s powerful final scene; pristine examples of the double Oscar winners acting range, for which an additional Oscar nomination is surely on the cards.
Unfortunately, due to this fast-paced style of storytelling, we are left with only a small glimpse into the lives and circumstances of both Captain Phillips and the pirates. This is highlighted at an early stage, but then falls to the wayside in favour of the plot.
The film is enhanced by supporting actor Barhad Abdi, playing the leader of the pirates, Muse. Something of a tragic figure, he mentions briefly his hope of giving up his lifestyle by going to America.
While some may find Greengrass’ camera motion a little excessive at times, this is a minor criticism of an otherwise stellar film about an ordinary man’s gruelling story of survival. Considering the calibre of acting from the entire cast, but particularly from veteran actor Tom Hanks and breakout star Barhad Abdi, Captain Phillips is sure to be a box office hit and award show staple.
In A Nutshell: Edge-of-your-seat suspense, stunning performances and high-octane action sequences make Captain Phillips a film well worth viewing.