Tom Hanks is at the top of his game in Paul Greengrass’ 2013 film Captain Phillips – it’s Hanks’ best ever performance. It’s the most pure acting that he’s ever given on screen. Usually, Hanks’ high calibre acting roles feature some sort of gimmick (weight loss, AIDS etc), but here he’s an average guy in an above average situation. He anchors Paul Greengrass’ film in such a way that helps heighten the film’s tension. And boy is there tension. Once this true-life drama kicks into high-gear it doesn’t stop, sustaining edge of your seat thrills for two hours. That is an impressive feat.
Hanks plays the titular Captain Phillips, a cargo ship captain taken hostage by Somalian pirates. He plays the role with his usual everyman charm -all at once he’s likeable, strong, fearless, terrified and emotionally broken. This is great stuff and if Hanks ever deserved an Oscar, it was for this. He’s on screen for the duration of the film’s running times and he never wavers, he’s always believable.
Paul Greengrass directs with his usual frenetic camera work, and his documentary background helps to add to the film’s reality. You can almost taste the salt in the sea air – this feels real. Greengrass again shows that he has his own brand of tense action-thriller. Nobody makes movies with the same visual style, or sense of cinematic honesty as Greengrass (although many have tried).
Captain Phillips grossed $107 million at the US box office and $218 million worldwide.