Release Date: October 11th, 2013 (US); October 16th, 2013 (UK)
Genre: Action; Adventure; Biography
Having directed films such as The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93, Paul Greengrass is no stranger to generating drama and thrilling audiences. In Captain Phillips, Greengrass combines the very best elements from his previous outputs and creates a relentlessly intense and enthralling tale of an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.
The film tells the true story of Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates while steering his cargo ship across the Indian Ocean in 2009. Tom Hanks stars as the troubled captain and delivers his best performance in thirteen years. The two-time Academy Award winner’s thoroughly convincing portrayal of the jaded mariner turned distressed captive is incredible — his astounding role in the emotionally-charged final few minutes of proceedings should seal Oscar number three come March.
In addition to Hanks’ performance are the surprisingly realistic offerings from the four previously untried actors playing Somali pirates. The group are imposing and chaotic, with Barkhad Abdi standing out in particular as the leader, and the quartet’s pursuit of the American-based vessel amplifies an already danger-fuelled atmosphere struck up by eerily droning music and Phillips’ on-edge demeanour (“We’re going along the Horn of Africa, right?”).
More than simply a story of immediate survival, the film also has a political and moral backbone. We see two very contrasting lifestyles in the opening shots: one shows a worn-out family man about to leave his wife on another extended job; the other depicts a struggling community whose only means of survival is criminal activity. Greengrass infuses these extremely current issues into the main plot-line to add another real-life layer of drama to the impassioned events.
Technically magnificent and emotionally draining, Captain Phillips boasts award-worthy lead performances and is without doubt one of the very best films this year.