A great deal in a film can be forgiven if it entirely sticks the ending, and this past year has had no better example of this than “Captain Phillips.” Though a capably tense and well-rendered experience for two-thirds of the narrative, Paul Greengrass’ drama still hits another level as it sends its sea-bound hostage tale toward its conclusion — and now we’ve got a spoilery reminder of why Tom Hanks deserved an Oscar nomination in a packed Best Actor lineup (see our full list of Oscar nominee snubs right here).
After a claustrophobic, two hours aboard the hostage situation between a band of Somali pirates led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi) and Maersk Alabama captain Richard Philips (Hanks), the film jolts both the audience and Hanks’ character with the subsequent bloody outcome. Our catharsis finally comes though, as Philips is rescued by Navy SEALS and led into a tiny medical station to receive treatment from two medics.
What occurs next is a masterclass in acting, as tremors of awareness start to creep back into Hanks’ face, and his character crumbles as he realizes the ordeal that he’s just survived. It’s a fantastic, heart-wrenching scene; it also shows a range from Hanks seen only rarely before. And to make the scene more unique, it was apparently a last-minute improv: Hanks, Greengrass, and the crew were originally supposed to shoot a more emotionally tame recovery scene, but they then switched plans and filmed a real-life Navy medic performing the procedure on Hanks.
Meanwhile, in related news, Schmoes Know are claiming that Greengrass is a possible candidate to direct the Lionsgate adaptation of Reza Aslan‘s “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” The book studies Jesus through an academic lens, placing the religious figure within the context of history instead of religion. Potentially fascinating, but this is a faint rumor for now, so treat it as such.
And until we know more, catch “Captain Phillips” scene below (via Reddit), and if you haven’t already catch Greengrass’ excellent film and lament its absence come Sunday night’s awards.