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An extraordinarily gripping movie based on events that took place on the container ship Maersk Alabama in April, 2009, “Captain Phillips” both sticks to the American Hero playbook and subtly departs from it. Tom Hanks plays the captain of a hijacked container ship as a company man forced to improvise, and Barkhad Abdi has great, weary presence as the leader of the Somalian pirates.
Director Paul Greengrass creates an aura of urgency so compelling, so rooted in detail, that we temporarily forget what we know and hold our breaths for two-plus hours of tightening suspense. The movie simultaneously stands in awe of the firepower and efficiency of America’s military and asks you to think about how it might look from the other side.