Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Ten


Director Paul Greengrass is great at the particulars of a film’s story. That’s what made United 93 comes across a model of titanic restraint when it arrived, its keen attention to the simplest details of people reacting to terrible turns of history providing an emotional poignancy that Hollywood script speechifying could never muster. Even his contributions to the Bourne series are at their best when tightly focused on the physical mechanics of the scenes. And that’s what gives Captain Phillips its bracing immediacy. Based on actual events that took place in 2009, the film follows the hijacking of a cargo ship by Somali pirates, bringing an attention to depicting the situation that is clinical without ever undercutting the harrowing tension. It is impressive across its entire running time, and Tom Hanks gives a stalwart, dedicated performance as the eponymous captain of the seized vessel. It is in the final minutes when the film delivers most impactfully, staying with the scenario after similar cinematic endeavors choose to look away, gifting the characters with the peacefulness of a slow dissolve to closing credits. Captain Phillips makes it clear that the trauma is only beginning for the people involved when the plot is at an end. In the real world, there’s no credit roll to obscure the agonizing aftershocks of those who’ve experienced brutality. Through his commitment to truth, Greengrass–aiding by Hanks, in the single most powerful scene of his career–offers a stark reminder of that fact.

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