captain phillips

Movie Review: Captain Phillips

captain phillips

Cary, NC – Well, it’s certainly been a good couple of weeks to go to the movies. Prisoners, Rush and Gravity all proved to be great options for your movie-going pleasure, and Captain Phillips helps keep the streak alive for another week with confident direction from Paul Greengrass ( The Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum) and some of the finest acting Tom Hanks has done in his entire career.

A Shaky Start That’s Quickly Corrected

Captain Phillips tells the true story of American cargo ship Maersk Alabama, the first American ship to be seized by pirates in two hundred years. Director Greengrass wastes no time at all by setting things in motion no more than 20 minutes into the film.

There is one brief scene in the beginning where Hanks is being dropped off at the airport by his wife and the two share an intimate conversation about their everyday worries. It’s an OK introduction to the character, but also one that feels a little rushed and shoe-horned in, as if the filmmakers felt they needed to see the character on land.

Actions Speak Louder

It’s a minor mistake though, because as the film goes on, we are able to learn much about Captain Phillips as he desperately tries to outsmart his captors and keep both himself and his entire crew alive. Like Gravity, the film does an amazing job of defining its titled character through action as opposed to words.

In contrast to the clichéd introduction of Captain Phillips, director Greengrass does anything but when introducing the head pirate that takes over the ship. Played by first-time actor Barkhad Abdi, director Greengrass goes out of his way not to paint these guys as simple villains. Right off the bat, we learn that Abdi’s character, Muse, simply has no other choice in life but to hijack and rob boats. For him, it’s that or death. The director never excuses what these guys are doing, but he at least tries (and succeeds in my opinion) at making them feel real and human.

A Career Best For Hanks

As I mentioned earlier, Tom Hanks does incredible work here. Once the situation fully takes off, Captain Phillips is constantly walking on tip toes trying to get the pirates off the ship ASAP and keeping any and all lives in tact.

Hanks expertly plays the character with a certain calmed panic that he keeps throughout the movie. However, it’s the final moments of the film where Hanks really brings out his acting guns. There is a moment at the end where his character finally allows himself to let loose and actually experience the emotion and stress that he is going through. It’s honestly one of the best moments of Hanks’ career and reminds us once again that this guy is one of the greats.

Also, special mention has to go to Barkhad Abdi. The first time actor is riveting as the head pirate, able to play menace and convey a sense of fierce intelligence at the drop of a hat. I’m genuinely curious to see how Hollywood plans to use him in the future.

Captain Phillips Well Worth Your Time

Captain Phillips is an incredibly intense film that features amazing direction from Paul Greengrass and even more impressive performances from Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi.

In a month filled with great movies, Captain Phillips once again gives you a reason to head to the theater.


Review by Jordan Hunt for CaryCitizen. Read more CaryCitizen Movie Reviews.