Captain Phillips

Paul Greengrass's The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) was a finely crafted film totally lacking in humor -- which is not to say that's a bad thing. Aside from star Matt Damon and some marvelous location shooting, it bore little resemblance to the first in the Bourne trilogy, Doug Liman's The Bourne Identity, which featured welcome smatterings of humor amidst the car chases and sniper shootings. Greengrass is an action-adventure master who knows how to turn up the heat and the intensity both on audiences and his leads. And so he does in his new, no-nonsense film, Captain Phillips, the true story of an attempted hijacking of an American cargo ship by Somali pirates near the horn of Africa. After thwarting the pirates' attempts to take his vessel, Phillips (Tom Hanks) is taken hostage by the pirate captain Muse (Barkhad Abdi) and his crew, who set off in the ship's lifeboat, a big orange motorized boot, and set course for Somalia to deliver Phillips up for ransom. When the action shifts to the confining quarters of the lifeboat, the film's intensity increases markedly and becomes nearly unbearable. Hanks, whose work in this film is truly splendid and deserving every accolade it will undoubtedly receive, becomes the epitome of desperation and dignity. It's a wonderful, and exhausting, movie. Highly recommended but not for the little ones.

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