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CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

For Hicksflicks.com, Jan. 17, 2014

Tom Hanks gives a terrific performance as the title character in "Captain Phillips" (PG-13), playing him as a strait-laced man of honor, making every effort to protect his crew after the cargo ship he's piloting is boarded by armed, hostile Somali pirates. Right down to allowing himself to be taken hostage in the film's riveting second half.

Filmmaker Paul Greengrass directs his movies as panic attacks ("The Bourne Ultimatum," "Green Zone"), with hand-held camera work so jittery that the term "shaky-cam" seems invented for him. And he doesn't let up here, which sometimes makes a point but other times is just too much.

Does the camera really have to bob up and down in the opening sequence when Phillips is merely packing a suitcase?

But there's no denying that the film overall is effective in its approach, building suspense in a streamlined way (despite being more than two hours long), capturing the audience early on and keeping each viewer on the edge of his seat for the entire running time.

Greengrass also manages to delineate each character, which is particularly notable with the pirates, which could have come off as one-note villains. And this is especially true of the leader of the group, played perfectly by Barkhad Abdi, who fully deserves his Oscar nomination.

Sadly, Hanks and Greengrass were left off of Oscar's short-list this year. But now that "Captain Phillips" is on DVD and Blu-ray, and you can judge its worthiness for yourself.