Aripped-from-the-headlines hostage drama, Captain Phillips recounts the hijacking of a US cargo ship by Somali pirates in 2009. Based on the memoir by the eponymous merchant mariner who survived the ordeal, the high-seas thriller is directed by Paul Greengrass.
Driving with his wife to the airport, the seafarer (Hanks) expresses concern for the future of their children who will have to face diminishing employment opportunities. The scene then shifts to a village in Somalia where impoverished fishermen jostle to enlist for a piracy mission. Drawing parallels between the two worlds, Greengrass puts the blame for the disparity on organised crime and vested business interests.
Allowing the action plot to take over quickly, the director ratchets up the tension from the moment the four machine guns wielding pirates board the unarmed commercial vessel. The showdown culminates in a scene performed with such vulnerability by Tom Hanks that the two-time Academy Award winner will likely snag another Oscar nomination.