Hanks commanding
in piracy thriller

Captain Phillips - pictured: (l-r) MAHAT M ALI as Elmi, TOM HANKS as Captain Richard Philliips and FAYSAL AHMED as Najee. PA Photo/Sony Releasing.

Captain Phillips - pictured: (l-r) MAHAT M ALI as Elmi, TOM HANKS as Captain Richard Philliips and FAYSAL AHMED as Najee. PA Photo/Sony Releasing.

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Tom Hanks charts a steady course towards a deserved sixth Oscar nomination for his tour-de-force portrayal of an unlikely hero in Paul Greengrass’s nerve-racking thriller.

Based on the book A Captain’s Duty by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty, this expertly crafted picture dramatises the true story of an American seaman, whose cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.

Working from a lean script by Billy Ray, Greengrass demonstrates once again why he is one of the finest directors of nail-biting action. As the plot picks up steam, Phillips, faced with threats from chief hijacker Muse (Barkhad Abdi) and his compatriots, finds himself in a stand-off that threatens to spiral out of control. At the same time, a US destroyer races to the scene. Phillips realises the gravity of his predicament, telling his captors, “They would rather sink this boat than let you get me back to Somalia.”

Captain Phillips is one of the year’s best films, blessed with a terrific ensemble cast. Hanks is flawless – we can see his mind whirring as he engineers distractions to keep the crew safe – and the final gut-wrenching scenes wring him, and us, emotionally dry.