Based on a true story, Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass, follows Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), whose ship, the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Focusing on the relationship between Captain Phillips and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the two are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship. In the ensuing stand-off, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
Director Paul Greengrass tells the story exceptionally well. A multi-layered examination of the hijacking, he perfectly captures a real, personal side to it from both sides, looking at the story through the eyes of the pirates as well as their hostages. The pacing is spot on, never allowing the film to grow tiresome or get boring, or by letting the intensity fall in any way.
Tom Hanks proves he is still one of the best around and gives his best performances in a long time. He gives so much more than what’s expected of him in the final 15 minutes that it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen, giving a great ending to the film.
The pirates, played by Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali, are also phenomenal, though. With each of them being first-time actors without any experience whatsoever, their performances were mesmerising in how threatening they were.