This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks fights for his crew and his ship in another tense thriller from expert director Paul Greengrass

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Paul Greengrass, 2013)
Intrepid Summer Movie Series
Thursday, August 14, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, 12th Ave. & 46th St., free, dusk
RiverFlicks: Big Hit Wednesdays
Wednesday, August 20, Hudson River Park, Pier 63 lawn at 23rd St., free, dusk

Based on the true story of Somali pirates hijacking a Maersk container ship in the spring of 2009, Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips is a nonstop action thriller, a gripping film that is solidly one of the best of the year. Tom Hanks gives a riveting performance as Captain Richard Phillips, a merchant marine guiding the MV Maersk Alabama on its mission to deliver relief supplies to Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya, in addition to more standard cargo. A family man, he kisses his wife, Andrea (Catherine Keener), goodbye, then heads out on his journey, paying close attention to a memo warning of possible pirate activity. When small motorboats do indeed start approaching, Phillips tries diversionary tactics — the ship and crew were not permitted to carry any weaponry whatsoever back then — but he knows that it’s only a matter of time before they come back, and indeed the Alabama is soon boarded by four armed pirates led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who capture Phillips and take over the ship. But things don’t go quite as planned for Phillips or the pirates, leading to a marvelously staged showdown finale. Greengrass, who has made such previous expert thrillers as Bloody Sunday, The Bourne Supremacy, and United 93, once again builds unrelenting tension every step of the way, even for those in the audience who might already know the outcome. The film centers on the complex relationship between the relatively easygoing Phillips and the desperate Muse, their eyes constantly meeting in penetrating gazes as they play an intense psychological game of cat and mouse. Hanks is a marvel as Phillips, giving brilliant nuance and texture to what could have been a one-note role but instead ends up being one of the finest of his outstanding career. All along the way, Greengrass keeps upping the ante, whether in a chase on the high seas or a claustrophobic battle of wills inside a lifeboat. There has been some controversy over the factual accuracy of the film, which is based on Phillips’s bestselling A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea (written with Stephan Talty), but that doesn’t take anything away from what is a breathtaking cinematic experience. Nominated for six Academy Awards, Captain Phillips is screening August 14 at the Intrepid Summer Movie Series and August 20 at Hudson River Park’s Pier 63, concluding the free RiverFlicks: Big Hit Wednesdays series. (For a day-by-day listing of free summer movie screenings throughout New York City, go here.)

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