Captain Phillips review


Paul Greengrass’ latest thriller is an almost unbearably tense two hours spent alongside Tom Hanks as Richard Phillips, a captain whose American container ship is highjacked by Somali pirates.

Hanks is superb as the captain struggling to stay alive and, at first, keep his crew safe, and in the film’s final moments he gives one of the most emotionally gripping and intense performances of his career.

This, following a series of scenes in which we are put through the wringer as each scene feels so extraordinarily fraught with danger and uncertainty.

Even when one knows how the real events went down it’s still hard not to be caught in the grip of the action on screen, as every element in the film – from the unstable camerawork, making it hard to feel at ease, to the anxiety inducing score are working in sync to unnerve and grip you.

The one area that Captain Phillips almost never strays into though is that of meaty social commentary. Despite occasional mentions of the poverty in Somalia and the almost too neat way in which we are introduced to the the two captains – Phillips and the Somali lead pirate played with impressive intensity and conviction by Barkhad Abdi.

This is more effective in adding shading to the characters than it is in telling us anything meaningful. Captain Phillips is certainly a superb thriller though and possibly Greengrass’ most accomplished feature to date.

This review was originally posted at Bleeding Cool.