Captain Phillips (M)
THE SUBJECT of war has become a flexible term in the new century in the context of overall conflict.
While bigger wars rage in the Middle East, smaller wars not in a physical state also cripple nations.
In Greece the lack of economy is stifling its position as a habitable nation, while in African countries blood is shed as rebels fight for diamonds.
Even in Australia, there is a war of words and political promises about gay marriage.
It is an inescapable part of today's existence.
At sea, Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) is aware, but not alarmed at the risk of pirates targeting his American cargo ship off the coast of Somalia.
His biggest problem should be dealing with a new crew during the voyage between Oman and Kenya.
The threat of modern-day pirates becomes all too real much too quickly for the captain to accept, but to his credit he keeps a cool head and prepares his crew for what is to come
He is faced with four armed Somalian males, one still a teenager, and negotiations become sour.
Paul Greengrass has become something of a niche specialist in international action since his days filming war zone documentaries.
His exploration of war's multiple facets ranges from the fictional Bourne world to modern history's most pivotal moment in United 93.
His focus on the true story of Captain Phillips lies with the titular character, a man who truly believes he is doing what is best in the situation that befalls him.
His relationship with pirate leader Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is a centrepiece of humanity in between the chaos around them, something to draw you in as a reminder that even the most callous of people still want connection.
Both Phillips and Muse are strong men within their respective circles, thinking similarly about how to best get their desired outcome realised.
That both should grow weaker as the severity of the situation increases and still maintain a strange mutual respect for each other is perplexing but logical.
Hanks and Abdi take Billy Ray's script to an engrossing state, creating a commanding mood.
Greengrass' speciality in realism grows stronger with his films.
For this powerful story he makes it hard to look away, even for watchers not in favour of handheld camera work.
The rough seas add a mental queasiness to a highly tense situation.
The adaptation of Phillips and Stephan Talty's book A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea has received backlash from crew members adamant their captain was reckless and travelled closer to the Somalian coast than instructed.
While anything of the sort is not alluded to, Greengrass has delivered a fine action thriller still very relevant on a grand scale.
Hanks produces one of his best performances as a man weakened by a deadly threat, with his final scene leaving you to check your breath.
Now screening at Reading Cinemas