STORY: The film documents the 2009 hijacking of the US-flagged cargo ship ‘Maersk Alabama’ by Somali pirates. Unarmed and unprepared… how Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his crew tackled the intruders forms the story. REVIEW: If Gravity made you experience the horrors of space, this tense drama in the high-seas will leave you feeling claustrophobic. The film is an archetypal Paul Greengrass thriller, which keeps you on the edge of your seat with its twists and turns. It engages you in deciphering the consequences of a criminal activity that unfolds onscreen. Based on a true-life story, at the helm of the hijacked ship is Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks), who puts his life in jeopardy to save his crew and the valuables on his vessel after being attacked by the Somalian pirates. His deadly cat-and-mouse game with the gun-wielding Somalians and relationship with their team leader Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is heartfelt and unnerving. While Tom Hanks is undoubtedly flawless in his portrayal of a man who’s staring at death in the face, it’s the British director who impresses the most with his thoughtful execution. In all his films, Greengrass subtly makes you notice the humane side of his characters.
You feel for their fear, dilemmas as their behaviour reflects their inner turmoil. He challenges your perception of good and bad, making you realize that crime is driven by circumstances, not people. Be it Green Zone (2010) or United 93 (2006), there is no over-bloated display of American superiority, or undue sympathy for the perpetrators. This makes his vision distinct and thus work mature, when compared to the rest. However, unlike his previous films, the build-up here is a tad tedious so needs patience. Nonetheless, the pressure keeps mounting steadily. The dialogues are profound; especially the ones exchanged between the Capt. and Muse, where the latter expresses his helplessness. Barkhad Abdi and other actors who play his sidekicks are as brilliant as Tom Hanks. Cinematography and background score create the tension required. And finally, all those mulling over the accuracy of the biographical tale must know that the director shows no interest in giving his film a docudrama treatment either. It’s essentially about each individual’s fight for survival.