Once someone has won two Academy Awards for Best Actor, he has the fullest right to cash in and just do mediocre films for a paycheck. Many in that position would try and avoid challenging films if they could.
Tom Hanks doesn’t dare.
In recent years, he has done some less that great movies, and made some odd choices in performances. He’s even tried his hand at directing, which was a success or failure depending on how you look at it.
However, Hanks took the role of a lifetime in the epic drama Captain Phillips. As the real-life Richard Phillips, Hanks plays a plebeian captain whose ship is hijacked by Somali pirates, and it is up to Hanks to save the day – however, this is no superhero movie, and Hanks is in no way a conventional hero. He is deceitful, duplicitious and cruel, but for the sake of his crew and his ship. Hanks is never a villain, but he isn’t a hero either – he is more a man trying to survive.
The one performer other than Hanks that stood out for me was the unknown Barkhad Abdi. He out-acted Hanks in every scene, and was truly captivating as the de facto leader of the group of pirates. His performance, which was seemingly dark, was actually so beautiful at showing a conflicted and confused young man. It is soon seen that both characters are just doing what they are doing to survive and rise above. By the end of the film, both Hanks and Abdi are still alive, but both damaged almost beyond repair. Abduwali Muse can be considered a parrallel to Richard Phillips – both seaworthy sailors who lead a group of unresponsive crewmembers. At times, you feel sorry for both characters, often at the same time.
The film’s crowing moment is the final scene, where Hanks is in a doctor’s office and he is being examined. It is an emotional, poignant scene of acting in its purest form. Life will never be the same for Richard Phillips, and audiences will exit the theatre with a new, beautiful experience implanted in their memory. One of the best films of 2013