Director Paul Greengrass pulls no punches with this true-life tale, which sees Tom Hanks step into the shoes of Richard Phillips, the captain of a US cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.
As with his 9/11 drama United 93, Greengrass re-creates the shocking events with a heart-pounding urgency, and there’s a powerful sense that violence could erupt at any moment – and it often does. But the director’s greatest skill is conveying the growing desperation of both Phillips and lead pirate Muse (Barkhad Abdi) after the initial, breathtakingly staged raid goes awry. Phillips may be the one taken hostage aboard a claustrophobic lifeboat, but Muse is revealed to be as much a victim as the increasingly desperate situation plays out.
Even when the US Navy turns up, the tension continues to escalate, as the political ramifications of the kidnapping call for a decisive solution. It all builds to a dizzying emotional crescendo in the final scenes, with Hanks at the very peak of his powers.
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