Largely different from Greengrass’ previous success with The Bourne Identity and its sequel, Captain Phillips relies on suspense and atmosphere for its power. The anchored decisiveness from the Matt Damon led action franchise is minimised here and the shaky-cam – a technique that can be frustrating – is practically invincible. The sheer presence of the piece is catastrophic, Greengrass’ aptitude and experience with true life tales of bravery and force – United 93 and Bloody Sunday – provides the insurance and confidence in his piece to identify the serious nature with a degree of fear and power, while never drawing too heavily into sentiment or exploitation of these people and their difficulties.
Captain Phillips is something that I expected to enjoy, but I was not prepared to be as captivated as I found myself. There’s such a remarkable preciseness to the way Greengrass delivers the tale here, filling his film with adrenaline but also that human element which allows the viewer to communicate with the figures on the screen. He portrays the situation in the darkest way possible, pulling the viewers into the tragedy the crew of this ship found themselves in. Yet despite the thrilling atmosphere and dramatic intensity that runs throughout the entirety of the film, Captain Phillips would be a lesser film without the performance from Tom Hanks.
Hanks has always been a great actor, but I’ve never seen him like he is here. Bravery runs through the veins of this figure, Hanks identifying the degree of emotion required for each individual sequence and delivering a performance up there with anything from this year. Running into the final act I feel astonished by what Hanks had provided with the character and Greengrass’ astute direction assists that, but in the final moments of the film I couldn’t comprehend what I was witnessing from Hanks. I won’t spoil how the tale concludes, but Hanks’ work in those last moments of the film is simply extraordinary. He deserves a nomination from the Academy at the very least.