LET’S list the DNA of a great action film.
It has to have a great story, great star, great director and keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the credits role.
Now let’s look at Captain Phillips.
Captain saves crew from Somali pirates – great story, check. Tom Hanks – great star, check. Paul Greengras – great director, check. Will this keep you biting your fingernails until the end – by God it will. Check.
What I am trying to say is that the latest offering by United 93 and Bourne movie helmer Greengrass is the perfect action move.
The story is based around Captain Phillips (Hanks) and his desperate bid to try to save his crew after their vessel is hijacked by Somali pirates.
I am going to get it out of the way quickly and say Hanks’s performance is sublime.
It is at least worthy of an Oscar nod, if not an actual gold statue itself.
He plays the role of everyday man caught up in an unthinkable situation with such ease.
His performance in the last 15 minutes of the film is stunning and has to be seen to be believed – it is not just one of the best I have seen this year, it is one of the best that I have ever seen on screen.
Strong praise should also be reserved for Barkhad Abdi, who plays the role of pirate leader Abduwali Muse.
Despite being as skinny as a rake, he commands the screen and at points matches Hanks.
As a viewer, you never know what he is going to do – good or bad – and it really keeps you on your toes.
The rest of the cast all perform well, but it is Hanks and Abdi who shine most brightly.
Most people will know director Greengrass for his part in reinvigorating the spy genre with the Jason Bourne series of films.
However, his best work to date, in my opinion, was United 93, his take on ill-fated flight on September 11, 2001, that terrorists hijacked and passengers tried to take back in an heroic bid to stop more people being killed.
United 93 was an emotional rollercoaster, shot in a documentary style and was one of the most breathtaking and harrowing films I have ever seen.
Greengrass takes that winning formula and moves it from the sky to the sea with Captain Phillips.
As with United 93, Captain Phillips is something of a rollercoaster.
However, the difference between the two films is that United 93 was like you were on the fastest ride ever from start to finish, and with Captain Phillips there is more of a slow build before an adrenaline-fuelled finale.
Greengrass and his team should be also be congratulated for filming so well at sea.
Not always the easiest place to do anything, the sea here is an added character and is used extremely well.
Are there any faults? I struggled to think of one.
Hanks is on top-drawer form and worth the price of the admission alone.
But, make no mistake, this is far from a one-man show.
Abdi excels and Greengrass is again on top form, proving exactly why he really is one of best directors around.
This is an excellent film – one of the best of the year.
Go and see it, sit back and enjoy.