The Film Formula: Captain Phillips

The Film Formula: Captain Phillips

We discover the different elements behind the Tom Hanks-starring hijack drama

The Film Formula is our series aimed at boiling down big releases to their most basic elements. This time round, it’s Captain Phillips

Comparisons to Danish thriller A Hijacking have been rife in Captain Phillips reviews, and it's easy to see why. Both feature a small band of Somali pirates taking over a large industrial freighter; both focus on the hostages forced to interact closely with their captors; and both have some relationship with true events – Captain Phillips is a retelling of the Maersk Alabama hijacking of 2009, while A Hijacking's writer/director Tobias Lindholm was inspired by the hijackings of the Danish-owned freighters Danica White and CEC Future in 2007 and 2008.

Captain Phillips helmer Paul Greengrass has dipped his toe into the waters of dramatisation before – his United 93 once again put hostages face to face with their attackers, this time on the titular flight which took place on September 11, 2001. As with that film, Captain Phillips has been praised for Greengrass' dignified direction and commitment to veracity (although some crew members from the Maersk Alabama have taken issue with the portrayal of Phillips).

The film has also been highly praised for its performances, particularly that of leading man Tom Hanks – who, lest we forget, has previous form in oceanic adventures. Yep, Captain Phillips places Hanks once again as the victim of a seafaring tragedy who faces the threat of death, much as he did in...

... cult 1990 romcom Joe Versus the Volcano. Why, what did you think we were going to say?

United 93 / A Hijacking x Joe Versus the Volcano (... oh, alright, and Cast Away) = Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is on general release from Fri 18 Oct.

'Captain Phillips' Trailer

Captain Phillips

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 2h 14min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Paul Greengrass
  • Cast: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Max Martini
  • UK release: 18 October 2013

Bourne helmer Greengrass directs the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and his crew's encounter with Somali pirates aboard the Maersk Alabama.