Early Oscar shout Captain Phillips tells the true story of the 2009 Somali pirate hijacking of a US ship. Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass are at their absolute best in this thrilling tale, which keeps the heart pounding throughout.
Hanks plays Richard Phillips, captain of the unarmed US container ship Maersk Alabama, when pirates target and hijack the ship 150 miles off the Somali coast. Muse is the leader of the pirates, played by Barkhad Abdi, and at the start of the film we see him assemble a team to go in search of a ship to overthrow and return to Somalia in order to sell for their bosses.
The film heavily focuses on the relationship between Muse and Captain Phillips and how both leaders fail to maintain control of their situation. And when the pirate’s plan to hijack the ship collapses, Captain Phillips is kidnapped leading to a thrilling and white-knuckle climax.
It’s no wonder Captain Phillips has been called for an Oscar nod. This exhilarating true story is illustrated brilliantly by Greengrass and portrayed expertly by Hanks. The leading man nails the vast emotional vigour that flow throughout the film, including a heart-breaking final scene. Abdi is also superb as the lead pirate, coming across as a thoroughly threatening and terrifying individual.
Greengrass decided that both sets of actors shouldn’t meet until the opening confrontation on the ship, and the hostile situation is superbly played out offering a authentic and real life dynamic during the scene. Greengrass should also be credited for his documentary style of filming with a mixture of hand held camera manoeuvres keeping the dramatization and facts nicely balanced.
Captain Phillips is an outstanding take on a remarkable story. Greengrass and Hanks team up for a phenomenal performance, with the latter producing one of his finest career moments on screen.