Paul Greengrass honed his skills as a journalist and documentarian in the 1980s, taking his camera into battle and bringing back keenly observed snapshots of human conflict. His facility with close-in explorations of battle lines makes Greengrass a master at illustrating the moments when global problems become personal, and “Captain Phillips” is about as personal as a modern maritime piracy drama can get.
This works because Greengrass and his star, Tom Hanks, are on task to evoke one man's crisis, but deliver something much more resonant than most hostage films. Hanks gives a master-class performance as Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, the shipping vessel that was overtaken by Somali pirates in April 2009 in the Gulf of Aden. He has a lot on his plate: the rules governing three union shops on board, physics, regulations, weather and the skiff filled with desperate Somali pirates approaching his vessel.
Greengrass and screenwriter Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games,” “State of Play”) illustrate both sides of this conflict. He introduces Muse (Barkhad Abdi), a skinny young man with no family but the one his tribal warlord provides him. The only way of life he knows is piracy. Greengrass and Abdi humanize the pirates and it is always clear: These men are the product of a derelict nation, a society that fell apart and left its citizens with lives torn by regional skirmishes, criminality and desperation.
16 Week Curriculum With Instructions, Lesson Plans & CNG Conversion Kit