Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, 2013)

From the first moment that we see two skiffs transporting Somali Pirates battling the open ocean and gaining on the merchant freighter they are pursuing through the binoculars of Tom Hanks’ Captain Richard Phillips the tension in Paul Greengrass’ (United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum) astonishingly credible thriller remains relentless.

Based on an actual 2009 hijacking case and Phillips’ autobiography, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, there is genuine heart-in-mouth suspense as both sides of this terrifying open-ocean occupation – Phillips and the crew of Maersk Alabama, and the four Somali raiders – are given equal attention and admirably humanised.

First and foremost, Hanks gives an incredible performance, and this amazing story has been given a fitting dramatisation – albeit one of nerve-shredding authenticity, and predominantly free of Hollywood dramatic manipulation and U.S ‘save-the-day’ bravado – by the gifted Greengrass. He weaves a tale documenting not just that of one man’s survival under extreme pressure, but a clash of first and third world economic values and two very different, but equally desperate men who have a job to do and work for other people, yet put their lives on the line to see it done.

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