Review: First-time actors elevate intensity of 'Captain Phillips'


Tom Hanks and a stunning cast of first-time actors from Minneapolis make a huge splash with the high seas thriller "Captain Phillips," a suspenseful retelling of the true-life hijacking the US Maersk Alabama four years back. The film is no doubt hampered by the fact that it was a widely-reported incident -- which effectively takes away the element of surprise -- but director Paul Greengrass ("United 93") still manages to ratchet up the tension for most of the film's 134-minute runtime.

Based on the real Phillips' 2010 memoir "A Captain's Duty," Hanks is great as always as the title character in "Captain Phillips," a veteran ship captain whose container vessel is overtaken during by four Somali pirates during a run through the horn of Africa in 2009. Doing his best to outsmart the pirates to protect the ship's 20-person crew, Phillips ends up being kidnapped by the pirates, who try to use the Maersk Alabama's lifeboat as a means of escape in their return to Somalia.

Hanks, of course, is the only name star in "Captain Phillips," but nearly stealing the show from him is Barkhad Abdi as the lead pirate Abduwali Muse. Abdi brings a tense performance of nervous unpredictability to the role, giving off the feeling that he's been acting for years. Not to be over-shadowed, though, is Abdi's co-star Faysal Ahmed, who is just as if not more frightening as the second-in-command on the mission -- who has much shorter of a fuse than the leader he reluctantly takes orders from.

While Greengrass sustains the intensity for most of the film, an unusually long scene featuring Hanks at the end of the film starts to dampen the impact by the time it concludes. Plus, more of a peek into what gave the pirates their absolute sense of fearlessness while literally in the face of warships and Navy SEALs during their rescue mission would have been a welcome addition. Neither of the shortcomings, though, should keep anybody away from "Captain Phillips," which will no doubt charge full-steam ahead as Awards season gets underway.

"Captain Phillips," rated PG-13, 3 stars out of 4.

What other critics are saying ...

Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press gives the film 3 1/2 stars out of four, saying while viewers will instantly recall the real-life events of the film, they'll "still be met by a gripping and intelligent adventure."

Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed well over 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.

Next Up


Minnesota gets mixed grades on its tobacco report card

In Minnesota, the economic cost due to smoking is $2.519 million with 5,910 deaths per year attributed to smoking.

Hardy Wills-Traxler

Charges: Man stabbed his father, set his home on fire

The 25-year-old has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Impound lot

Crowded impound lot raises COVID concerns after Minneapolis snow emergency

A vehicle owner complains about the tightly-packed impound lot following the weekend's snow.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, Jan. 27

The latest update from the state health department.


Charges: Bar owner, employee served underage drinkers during shutdown

The bar hosted 20-30 people on Dec. 4, 2020, charges say.

police lights

Driver wearing bulletproof vest strikes pedestrian in Rochester

The 21-year-old claimed the vest keeps him warm, according to police.

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 8.08.05 PM

6 men charged in connection to 'disturbing trend' of carjackings, shootings

The men are accused of three carjackings in one day, as well as other crimes.

YouTube TV, FSN

Report: Fox Sports North is becoming Bally Sports North

The rebranding will reportedly happen prior to the start of the MLB season.

walmart mask

Wisconsin Senate votes to end statewide mask mandate

The joint resolution now heads to the Republican-controlled state assembly.

P.J. Fleck

Looks like the Gophers can put Fleck-to-Tennessee rumors to rest

Fleck is annually a hot commodity when coaching jobs open up.