Top-notch ‘Captain Phillips’ will stand as one of Hanks’ best roles

Tom Hanks in ‘Captain Phillips.’ Rated PG-13, 134 min. Columbia Pictures, 2013.

After so many hit films and a pair of Oscars, any discussion of Tom Hanks’ extraordinary acting ability may seem tiresome, or even dated. But somehow, Hanks has managed to top himself again, in the phenomenal “Captain Phillips.” Director Paul Greengrass (two “Bourne” films, “United 93”) and writer Billy Ray breathe vivid life into the true story of the 2009 pirate hijacking of U.S. shipping freighter Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia.

Regardless of your familiarity with this worldwide news story, each moment is loaded with suspense and rendered in painstaking detail. The pirates (led by revelatory first-time actor Barkhad Abdi) look so desperate and frightening that you may forget this is a scripted drama.

Greengrass’ documentary-style photography includes shaky camerawork and tense, quick-cutting action to keep your heart racing. The story touches on global politics, war, money, morals, and the will to survive, but the most memorable highlight is Hanks, whose character is eventually overcome by post-traumatic shock. He makes the film’s final moments some of the finest of his career.

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