This is one of the year's best movies and it features Tom Hanks' strongest work in more than a decade. But it's a live wire, time bomb of a film that, when it finally releases, leaves your nerves scrambled.
Captain Phillips puts names and faces to its tale of economic clashes. That's why Hanks' and Abdi's performances are so anchoring. Their characters face off, negotiate, cajole each other not as archetypes but as humans.
Hanks and Abdi are so compellingly matched that unlike with most thrillers, it won't be the action climax in Captain Phillips that'll stick with you. It'll be that aftermath, which gets at the emotional toll of terrorism in a way few movies have.
The filmmakers are as interested in the human element as they are in the true events they're recounting. It's too bad that they couldn't have made their real-life bad guys as multi-dimensional as their hero.
At every step, Hanks excels at showing what's really going on in the character's mind while maintaining his facade of almost folksy calm. It isn't one of the actor's rangiest roles, but it culminates in an eruption of emotional fireworks ...