Of course, becoming a lone hostage aboard the lifeboat likely doesn’t factor into Phillips’ scheme, but neither does he flinch when it’s the only way to force the pirates off the ship. Phillips’ time in the lifeboat with the pirates, drifting toward Somalia while the US Navy moves to intercept, is where Greengrass and Hanks ratchet up their games. Phillips is at first courageous in the face of untenable circumstances, trying to reason with and even manipulate his kidnappers. As the situation becomes progressively more explosive, however, Phillips’ courage slowly melts, yielding to greater levels of fear, until he ultimately descends into heart-stopping panic.
Hanks’ performance in the lifeboat is subtle, intense and works perfectly with Greengrass’ directorial style in maintaining suspense. I continually found myself wondering: What’s he going to do next? What’s he planning?
Abdi and his fellow pirates also do solid jobs conveying the motives and personalities of the pirates, making them far more real and human than I would’ve guessed coming into the film. These characters are far from the atypical Hollywood-type villains one might expect from such a film.
Of course, the evildoers’ humanity also owes largely to Billy Ray’s (“The Hunger Games”) script. With previous scripts, Ray has shown both a preference and a talent for character development and a slow build of tension. “Phillips” is no different, and the slow-build compliments Greengrass’ explosive, suffocating style and camera work very well.
Again, though, I return to Hanks. He gives the kind of performance here that makes those around him better, and the audience is the ultimate winner for it. “Captain Phillips” is worth the price of admission for his performance alone.
Rating: Lone-wolf howl
Runtime: 134 minutes
Rated R for language, sexuality and intense, gory violence; not suitable for the pups
Rating System Explained: Rabies = 0; Yip = *; Bark = **; Howl = ***; Lone-wolf howl = ****; Leader of the pack = *****
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011