Movie Review: Tom Hanks’ Finest Acting, Captain Phillips 2013

captain phillips tom hanks movie

Captain Phillips was a 2013 movie starring the very talented Tom Hanks which is based on the actual hijack incident of a US cargo ship, MV Maersk Alabama by Somalian pirates and thereafter the kidnapping of the ship’s captain for ransom. These pirates were eventually were killed by SEAL snipers. Poster source: Wikipedia

Tom Hanks is one of the finest, very talented actors around and it is not a big surprise therefore that he is a two consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor winner – one for the movie Philadelphia (1993) and another is Forrest Gump (1994). He has played some of the most lovable characters todate and admittedly his movies have all been a blockbuster.

Just to name a few – Apollo 13, Toy Story, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, Cast Away, Road to Perdition, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, The Polar Express, The Da Vinci Code, Cars, Angels & Demons, Sully and The Post. My personal favourite is Cast Away which I saw in the cinema twice and thereafter on HBO, many, many times.

tom hanks saving private ryan movie

Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller shows how versatile he is in any roles – from comedy, romance, drama, mystery and even war movies. Image source: Cinema Blend

Saving Private Ryan is another of my personal favourite – I actually went out and bought the original DVD just to hear the sound effect. Together with my brother, we took out our HiFi speakers and arranged it so that it produced the 5.1 surround sound that we wanted. Then we watched the opening battle at Omaha Beach – bullets were flying from left to right and over our heads. That was one of the best action movies I had ever watched at home.

To summary how talented Tom Hanks really is, I mark this particular scene from the movie which incidentally comes towards the very end as the best testament on his talent.

This is almost to the end of the movie where the SEAL snipers have just shot dead all the 3 Somalian pirates – all at the same time – and Captain Phillips was then rescued from the lifeboat where he was kept active. His face and shirt are full of the blood from the slained pirates and clearly he is in shock. For a moment, it seems like he is unaware of what had happened when he was brought it for medical check-up and then it finally hits him.

Interestingly, the female medic who is checking Tom Hanks in this scene is actually a real navy medic which explains the cold, precise questioning to gauge the situation of the patient. The whole sequence was unscripted, unplanned and improvised by Tom Hanks which ended up as the best scene of the whole movie.

This particular acting by Tom Hank was so natural that you will think that Tom Hanks was actually in shock, covered by real blood of actual pirates and have been just rescued by the navy.

Tom Hanks claimed that the scene of Captain Richard Phillips’ medical examination was improvised on the spot with real-life Navy Corpsman Danielle Albert, who was told to simply follow her usual procedure.

However, Albert was so star-struck by Hanks that she froze during the first take. Hanks joked to her that he was supposed to be the one in shock for the scene.

For the second take that was used in the film, Paul Greengrass claimed that he stood next to the Captain of the ship, watching with tears in his eyes, who told him “I’ve seen trauma, and that’s what it looks like.”


Seriously, it is amazing how this one scene was not enough for Tom Hanks to win an Academy Award.

The emotions in this scene were very genuine and real – it will certainly move you to tears if you have watched the movie from the start and experience the same situation. To seal the moment is the background music which adds the effect of the trauma and realisation.

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