Tom Hanks is Captain Phillips in the harrowing true story that is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray. The film has earned six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture and one for Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi. And now with its release on home video, it is a chance for those who have seen it to revisit the marvel that is director Paul Greengrass’ (The Bourne Ultimatum) brilliant work, but also for those who missed it… an opportunity to finally see one of the great films of the year.
The 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates is the landscape for this thriller. But, that is merely the tip of the iceberg, as we report in our theatrical Captain Phillips review. It is also a story of perseverance, economic desperation and heroism.
The Captain Phillips trailer may tease the rescue of Phillips by Navy SEALs and the tense several days that were essentially a high-noon-type standoff between the pirates and U.S. forces. But Greengrass’ film delves deeper and allows us to see the roots of why the pirates had to do what they did, while also giving the viewer the background on Phillips and his crew to feel emotionally connected to them and to feel their pain, their triumphs and their utter fear.
There is so much more to the Captain Phillips story than was revealed in headlines, and as the film is based on the real captain’s book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, Greengrass and his filmmaking team are given unparalleled insight into the deeply personal horror that Phillips experienced, plus the fortitude that got him to coax the pirates into the rescue vessel and float off to sea, away from his crew and his ship.
This is Hanks’ film, through and through, although he is matched note for note by Abdi, who announces his talent like an explosion. The way that Hanks and Abdi duel, through a gun, and then words, is masterfully told through the helming of Greengrass. And it is for that reason that we cannot recommend enough checking out the Captain Phillips DVD and Blu-Ray with the director’s commentary at some point. If you are like Movie Fanatic and have been a long-time fan of the helmer, it is a true gift to hear his words over the action and drama to see how he put it together.
The other bonus feature is the Capturing Captain Phillips documentary, which is told in three parts. It is an in-depth and behind-the-scenes series of featurettes on the making of the film. This was a tough shoot as Greengrass shot much of it on the same rough ocean waters where the hijacking took place. Watching how Hollywood managed to recreate the terror on the high seas, sometimes at the expense of the cast and crew’s stomachs (!), is truly fascinating. For fans of politics, international intrigue, and good old-fashioned Tinseltown magic, it is a rare treat.