Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips (2013)

Alabama Taken by Pirates

Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is well aware that his job entails risks of coming up against Somali pirates but as the Captain of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama he is prepared for it to happen. And when it does Phillips and his crew manage to keep a group of Somali pirates lead by a fisherman named Muse (Barkhad Abdi) at bay for a while until they manage to board the ship. With the safety of his crew at the front of his thoughts Phillips finds himself being taken by Muse and his men with things looking bleak with every passing hour the tension rising in a small lifeboat they are in.

What have "The Lone Ranger", "Oz the Great and Powerful" and "Captain Phillips" all have in common? Of course you may say that they were all released in 2013 but you could also mention that each of these movies exceded the 2 hour running time. One thing you won't know is that I watched these 3 movies over 3 days ending with "Captain Phillips" and where the first two movies disappointed me "Captain Phillips" restored my faith in modern cinema.

Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips (2013)

Now I have to be honest and say that I know next to nothing about the true story on which "Captain Phillips" is based and as such I don't know how much of the movie is fact and how much is fiction. Obviously some reworking has gone into this movie for the simple fact rarely are true stories this entertaining but when a movie works as well as this one does I would say that any changes are pretty acceptable. The reason why is because "Captain Phillips" has this storyline which builds taking us through the dangerous attempts of the Somali pirates to board the ship, the strength of the crew to smartly fight back and then what for me is the most fascinating part of the movie, when Phillips ends up in the lifeboat with 4 Somali pirates and we see the situation inside this sealed boat become increasingly tense which is made tenser when the US Navy show up.

It is during this second half of "Captain Phillips" where Tom Hanks reminds us all what a fantastic actor he is and makes you question why he wasn't even a nominee for a Best Actor Oscar. The control of his character throughout is brilliant and it delivers the big impact moment when after trying to maintain a sense of hope and control he finally breaks down, shell shocked by what has happened and how close he came to dying. Trust me when I say the final scenes will move you to tears because of how much Hanks puts in to those final scenes. But trust me when I say that Hanks is matched all the way by Barkhad Abdi as Somali pirate Muse because Abdi makes the character multi layered from being frightening to showing his inexperience and through the way he looks you get a sense that Muse began to respect Phillips for what he was doing.

What this all boils down to is that "Captain Phillips" is an incredibly powerful movie but also an incredibly entertaining one which keeps you gripped from the opening scene right up until the credits role. It is without a doubt one of the most intense movies I have watched in a while and after it has finished you feel drained as if you were in the situation with Phillips but it is well worth it.