This is my first movie review, so bear with me.
In Paul Greengrass’ film Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks plays real-life Captain Richard Phillips, a survivor of a hijacking and subsequent kidnapping by Somali pirates. The highly-publicized 2009 event provided the basis for the film. It is the story of Richard Phillips, Captain of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship. The story goes that the ship was charted to travel from Oman to Mombasa, a course then went through waters off the coast of Somalia, where it was hijacked. Although it is based on a real, recent event, I will not go much further into the plot, as you should see the film for yourself. It is excellent.
On the topic of Tom Hanks’ performance, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to say this is a career-high. Tom Hanks is an actor you recognize. His voice, his appearance, and the types of films he usually stars in are all recognizable. This, to some, can be a curse on the actor. The roles can start to run together. Similar can be said for actors like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, etc. In Captain Phillips, however, Tom Hanks is something comparable to unrecognizable. Yes, it’s obviously Tom Hanks, but this is a role he really disappears into. Almost as if he becomes Richard Phillips. I’d put money on him for an Academy Award nomination (not that anyone would be too surprised).
While anyone can tell you that Tom Hanks is an excellent actor, the best acting in the film comes from Barkhad Abdi, who played Abduwali Muse, the lead pirate in the film. Barkhad Abdi, in this film, is Abduwali Muse. He is terrifying. He plays this role with the intensity and talent of a professional method actor. All the more impressive is that this is not only the 28-year-old actor’s feature film debut, but his acting debut in general. In his first performance, he is receiving “Oscar buzz.”
On the subject of acting, it would be shameful for me not to mention the performance of Faysal Ahmed as Najee. Najee was the most insane member of the pirate crew. He had and extremely short temper, was always on edge, and trusted no one. He saw through every trick the Captain and the U.S. government tried to pull. Ahmed played this role excellently (it was also his first performance) and was perfectly, unpredictably terrifying.
The high-speed, suspenseful progression of the film keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire film, and the writing is sharp and doesn’t let up, especially later in the film. I would recommend it to anyone. It’s an almost perfectly-crafted thriller, and the fact that it is based on true events lends a sense of real risk to the film. 5/5