Director's restraint keeps story buoyant

Director's restraint keeps story buoyant

Review Drama/action


DURATION: 134 minutes
RATING: 4.5/5
Opens on 14th November

The story: This movie is based on the true story of the 2009 pirate boarding of the container ship Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia. The first pirate attack on an American-registered ship in more than 100 years, it sparked military action by the United States Navy. Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), taken for ransom on board a small getaway vessel bound for the Somali coast, has to be rescued. Holding him are fishermen-turned-thugs headed by Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

Recent allegations of exaggerated self-importance thrown at the man whose name is in the film's title may have dented the halo of the seafarer from Massachusetts, but for most, this movie's entertainment value should remain buoyantly intact.

What is even better is that the enjoyment of this high-seas adventure is guilt-free (though up to a certain point).

Director Paul "Shakycam" Greengrass, using a Billy Ray script adapted from Phillips' book, keeps the lead character's lionisation and overall American flag-waving under firm control, while at the same time avoiding making the Somali pirates look like cartoon villains.

Neither does the focus shift into war-movie mode when the navy makes its entrance. Greengrass has admirable restraint when it comes to showing off military gear or men in uniform, setting him apart from those who turn entire movies into recruitment commercials.

Hanks is probably the most likeable actor in Hollywood today and it is obvious why he was asked to participate in this project.

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