Captain Phillips

Out here, survival is everything.

Poster art for Captain PhillipsDirected by Paul Greengrass (United 93), Captain Phillips is based on a true story and stars Tom Hanks as middle-aged Captain Richard Phillips who is hired to pilot an American container ship, the Maersk Alabama, down along the coast of Somalia to Kenya. However, the ship is captured and boarded by a skiff containing four Somalian pirates lead by Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

Hanks is terrific as Captain Phillips, stiff-upper-lipping for all he's worth during the initial attack, but gradually succumbing to the full terror of his situation, especially when it becomes clear that the Navy aren't exactly there to negotiate. As well, first-time actor Abdi delivers an engaging performance as Muse that's almost sympathetic – the script makes clear that he is expected to answer to ruthless bosses who won't be happy with the mere $30,000 onboard and we see a telling glimpse of his life back in Somalia.

As with United 93 (also about a real-life hijack), Greengrass is excellent at building and maintaining suspense, even when the eventual outcome is common knowledge. As a result, the final act is nail-bitingly tense and the climax is both terrifying and genuinely shocking, all the more so for the knowledge that this actually happened.

– Matthew Turner, ViewLondon

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