Firstly, I have to say, for those who might be put off by the casting of this film and think that Tom Hanks has passed his prime and can only really do mushy and saccharine roles, please don’t allow these thoughts to stray you from the line to see this film. I urge you to find a way to watch this movie, I doubt, very seriously, that you’ll regret it.
Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, The Green Mile) plays Captain Richard Phillips, a role that suits Hanks to a tee and it is, without any doubts, his best performance in many years, possibly, in this writer’s view, his best ever. Captain Phillips, a serious and honest speaking man, is a sturdy presence in the opening moments of the film, with him ensuring his crew are aware of their roles and equally aware that he in fully in charge of the ship and what goes on therein. The ship in question is set for a drop-off assignment that, on its journey to its destination, sails through risky waters that are known to harbour clusters of pirates from Somalia.
The film begins with the ship setting sail for its destination and we soon find ourselves witnessing two boats approaching the cargo trawler that Captain Phillips is navigating. The remainder of the film follows Captain Phillips, his crew and the pirates themselves, from the pirates attempting to, and boarding the ship, to the ensuing drama between the two sides.
The film could very easily stray into black and white territory, with the whole good versus evil concept being sickeningly explored, but it doesn’t, and the beauty and intrigue of the film often lies in it’s willingness to not only show, but examine the grey areas that exist.
Paul Greengrass (United 93) directs what is based on true events, here, and he does it flawlessly and in such a realistic and un-sensationalised manner that it feels so authentic and alarming at times. The casting of the Somali pirates is a much-publicised story, being that they had not previously acted before this movie. Barkhad Abdi, who plays the main pirate, Muse, is sensational in the role and is astoundingly realistic in his performance.
The escalating drama of this film is done so well, and the cinematography puts you right in the middle of the chaos. It is difficult to find fault here, because the director and his actors have collaborated to take an existing true account and, with passion and a deep realism, put that account onto screen in a way that oozes quality and constantly entertains and enthrals.
Captain Phillips is an emotional journey of a film, and one that will have you on the edge of your seat for much of its 134 minute run-time. Tom Hanks puts his heart and soul into bringing his character to life and he deserves much credit for his work here. The pirates, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali are terrific and shine in their roles, bringing much more than just faceless villains to the screen.
When the credits roll at the end of the film, you will almost feel like you’ve been a part of the crew. The journey that the movie takes you on is emotional, to say the very least, and if you aren’t choked up in the closing moments of the film, then I think you need your tear ducts examined. Captain Phillips is easily one of my favourite films of 2013, and one of the best true story adaptations that I’ve ever witnessed. See it.