Captain Phillips

Rated 4.0

Every word that accurately describes the experience of Captain Phillips makes it sound like the movie beats the hell out of its viewers. It's an exhausting film, but in a good way. Much as he did in United 93, director Paul Greengrass employs his punishing brand of verisimilitude to immerse the audience in real-life horrors. This time, Greengrass locates his handheld camera 150 miles off of the east African coast, where in April 2009, Somali pirates brazenly commandeered a container ship and took captain Richard Phillips hostage. Tom Hanks plays Phillips, and while his casting may be character shorthand for “decent and dutiful,” Greengrass and screenwriter Billy Ray are after larger spoils. Captain Phillips splits its time between Phillips and his malnourished Somali captor, a violently ambitious pirate played by Barkhad Abdi, who gives one of the most compelling performances of the year.