Captain Phillips ★★★★★

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Captain PHillips 2 hrs 14 mins. Drama/Suspense Director: Paul Greengrass, Cast: Tom Hanks (Phillips), Barkhad Abdi (Muse) and several minor characters

Director Greengrass provides a first-rate modern-day thriller. Tom Hanks, who portrays the American Captain of the U.S. flaggged MV Maersk Alabama (the first American cargo ship hijacked in 200 years) trying to get his container ship through the Indian Ocean, past pirate-infested waters near Somalia, does an outstanding job. In unprotected international waters, Captain Phillips is determined to save his crew from the armed pirates who board it. To do that he needs to outwit the pirate captain (Muse) who is played by the talented, Barkhad Abdi. The movie is really the story of the developing relationship of the two “captains” and who will outwit the other.

Hanks just keeps getting better and better as an actor. In the last riveting half-hour of the movie, the Captain Phillips persona begins to crumble as he, desperate to escape, is left at the mercy of the four angry pirates who have abducted him. It is Hanks as you have never seen him before, and he will keep you on the edge of your seat as the explosive, dramatic ending approaches. He is sure to receive an Academy Award nomination for this role.

But, say, Why do we find so little information about those actors who played the Somalian pirates? They were a phenomenal addition to the movie. Director Greengrass has recruited four Somalian men who have never before acted. Barkhad Abdibdi, who plays the captain of the pirates, is an outstanding, gifted actor. With their gaunt faces, emaciated bodies, yellow protruding teeth and anguished eyes they give you a haunting dimension of the suffering of young men in a distant land who have no options. With no education or employment, they are bullied and recruited by “bosses” to a life of crime. At the very end, when Muse begins to realize the end of a dream, his demeanor and voice drop to an almost gentle, sympathetic level as he explains to Phillips, he has no alternative to this lifestyle. You almost feel sorry for him. He is a natural-born actor without any acting experience at all. Extraordinary.

Like “Argo” we all know the ending, but Greengrass is such an extraordinary director that he will keep you on the edge of your seat with a tense, dramatic and thrilling movie. It makes the two-plus hours pass like it was a fraction of the time. As for me, I needed a drink to steady my nerves.



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