Captain Phillips ★★★★★
The first time I watched this engrossing true-life maritime hostage tale from drama’s finest documentary realist Paul Greengrass, my enjoyment of it was ruined by a chatty gang of teenagers at the cinema. If nothing else, I guess, it added to the edgy atmosphere. Seen in more conducive circumstances at home, it’s still brilliantly harrowing. Tom Hanks brings a real sense of middle-aged, by-the-book frailty to the skipper of a container ship boarded by four Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa, while the performance of their leader has a vitality only found in a debuting actor (Mogadishu-born Barkhad Abdi). Greengrass keeps us typically close to the danger, recalling his intimate work on United 93, as the crew attempt to regain power from their hijackers. But even when a US Navy destroyer turns up, a resolution remains remote, and the third act is even more of a nail-biter.
For more of today’s free-to-air films, see our TV listings
Order your copy of the Radio Times Guide to Films 2017