|These are some bad dudes...|
The intensity starts with the opening scene and never lets up, as Captain Phillips, played by Tom Hanks in the finest performance of his admirable career, prepares to leave his home in bucolic Vermont and fly off to board the huge cargo ship he rules with a humble yet firm grip. His wife, played by Catherine Keener in what is surely the shortest performance by a major movie star on record, drives him to the airport and they hug their goodbyes. End of normalcy. From there we cut to a crowd of feral-looking Somali men, all of whom are in need of some dental work and a decent meal, jockeying for positions on two small motor boats headed out to do some dirty work on the high-seas.
No time is wasted, and sooner than you can ask "how is that possible?" four skinny bad guys are on board the huge container ship, ruining everyone's day. These pirates are not the eye-patch, bandanas-and-beads, Johnny Depp kind. They do not swashbuckle. Instead, they're desperate young men who have sworn to make millions for their warlord boss back home. Dressed in rags and high on a chewable weed called khat, they're the only ones with the guns, so despite the ship's bells, whistles and water hoses, the bad dudes take over in what seems like seconds. All anyone else can do, including the 20-man crew hiding below deck and you quivering in the audience, is sit still, hold their breath, pray for help and hope it's over soon.
The film has much to recommend staying off the water forever and as far away from Somalia as possible. It also assures Tom Hanks, a.k.a. Our National Treasure, of another Oscar, this one for Best Final Scene in Any Movie Ever. Clumsy title, but you'll know it when you see it.