Viewed – 22 October 2013 Cinema
At one time, Tom Hanks was probably the finest actor in Hollywood. Who can forget his two years in a row Oscar win for Philadelphia and Forest Gump? Not to mention his stellar turn in Saving Private Ryan, among others. Yet in recent years, and following luke-warm reactions to his Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons roles, he seemed to almost disappear … but now he’s back, ready to show everyone else how it’s meant to be done.
Hanks plays Richard Phillips, a Captain of a huge cargo ship heading into Somalia waters, when they get attacked by a group of pirates. Based on a shocking true story, this is immediately gripping and very well acted by all involved. Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) has delivered an utterly intense, nail-biting experience that barely lets up through its 2hrs + running time. I did go into this a little bit cautious … just how interesting can a movie about an attack on a boat be? Simple answer: very very interesting. Greengrass drags out every moment for full nerve-shredding potential, from the gradual approach of the pirates heading to the ship aboard speed boats, to a tense search in the engine room where the rest of the crew are hiding. It’s not exactly Die Hard on a boat, going for a more wholly realistic approach … but I was probably more gripped and excited than during the entire Die Hard franchise. Surprisingly the movie also managed to show the pirates, as ruthless as they are, with some degree of sympathy and the actors playing them, all real-life Somalian’s did a very commendable job.
Yet this remains Hanks’ movie and his performance here is not big Hollywood star (he’s never been that sort of actor) but very human and heart-breaking. I’ll even admit to feeling quite emotional at times watching such a layered, believable performance. Hanks is back at the top of his game here, and I foresee another Oscar on the horizon.
A movie that questions your beliefs, makes you think and gives you plenty to talk about in the ride home afterwards. A contender for movie of the year.
Verdict: 5 /5