Tom Hanks is no superhero. Therefore this most human of movie stars is just right for the title role in Captain Phillips, a movie that consistently rejects the idea of an indestructible superman in control.
The film is drawn from the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship, which was seized by Somali pirates while sailing around the Horn of Africa. Rich Phillips, the captain, was taken hostage when the pirates escaped in a lifeboat; except for a brief prologue with Phillips at home, the film basically covers the pirate drama.
In most ways, Captain Phillips is a tight-wound suspense picture, but it rejects easy hero-vs.-villain button-pushing. Some of that comes from the documentary-like style of director Paul Greengrass, whose main gift is to plunk you into the middle of a crisis as though it’s actually happening at that moment. Greengrass directed United 93 and the latter two “Bourne” spy movies, and you will recognize his jittery style (the guy is allergic to tripods).