6 September 2013 3:00 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Four years after it made headlines, the harrowing ordeal of commercial shipping captain Richard Phillips gets the bigscreen treatment care of verite specialist Paul Greengrass in “Captain Phillips.” The result is a kinetic docudrama that always impresses without ever connecting emotionally in quite the same way as the helmer’s prior “Bloody Sunday” and “United 93,” with which “Phillips” forms a loose trilogy of average Joes and Janes caught in the throes of politically motivated violence. Setting sail with an opening-night berth at the New York Film Festival (where another seafaring epic, “Life of Pi,” launched last year), this impeccably well-made, gripping but grim survival tale should spark a flurry of awards buzz for star Tom Hanks and powerful Somali newcomer Barkhad Abdi, but may prove too grueling to make major waves with Academy voters or the multiplex crowd.

Working from a script by Billy Ray (“Breach,” “Shattered Glass”) drawn from Phillips’ own memoir, »


- Scott Foundas

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