Alan Dee’s movie preview: Everyman Tom Hanks has a steady hand on the tiller as Captain Phillips comes face to face with pirates

When you’re looking for a strong Everyman hero with integrity to spare, you can’t go wrong with Tom Hanks.
Tom Hanks stars in Captain PhillipsTom Hanks stars in Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks stars in Captain Phillips

And when you’re looking for a director with impeccable credibility who can also helm an edge of the seat thriller, Paul Greengrass is your man.

So, as you’d expect, the new film which harnesses both their talents is – despite what some might think an unpromising storyline – a gripper of the first order.

Captain Phillips is the true story of the first US ship to be seized by pirates in 200 years.

Tom Hanks stars in Captain PhillipsTom Hanks stars in Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks stars in Captain Phillips

Not a navy vessel, of course – the Maersk Alabama was nothing more than a floating truck, chugging container cargo across the Atlantic.

Straying a little too close to Somalia for comfort, skipper Hanks spots speedboats heading in their direction on the radar and realises that pirates are on the way.

He orders the crew to hide as a well-rehearsed emergency drill is put into place, but the armed brigands take him hostage and head off in a lifeboat.

A high stakes stand-off ensues, but as the tension rises the skipper and the pirate leader learn more about each other, and the forces that drive them on.

Greengrass is best known for his work on the Bourne films but this is much closer to United 93, a heartstopping thriller based firmly in grim reality.

Grim reality isn’t a phrase that is easily attached to Escape Plan, but it is certainly a bit grim.

It’s a high concept film that sells itself on the premise of teaming up Sly Stallone and Arnie Schwarzenegger in a jailbreak tale.

Sly is a leading prison designer tricked into testing the security of a new state-of-the-art jail called The Tomb and then wrongfully imprisoned.

If he wants to see the outside world again he will have to team up with old lag Arnie and use his inside knowledge to break out.

It’s the first time that this testosterone-fuelled twosome, now both heading towards their 70th birthdays but showing no signs of abandoning action roles, have shared the billing. Expect preposterous plotting, clunky dialogue and Arnie sporting a dapper goatee beard for reasons which are not explained. Oh, and Vinnie Jones...

Family animation time, and Turbo is another high concept project. A freak accident transforms a snail who just happens to have a dream of being a racing champion into a supercharged slime trail star, but there are lots of ups and downs before he can take the chequered flag. Ryan Reynolds provides the voice for the plucky hero, Paul Giamatti is his brother. Standard anthropomorphic fare from the makers of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, served up with the obligatory 3D distraction and lots of star cameos.

Related topics: