Tom Hanks is at the very peak of his powers in Oscar-nominated CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (12: Sony), a true-life tale that doesn’t pull any punches.
Hanks steps into the shoes of Richard Phillips, the captain of an American cargo ship hijacked by pirates while on a dangerous course around the coast of Somalia in 2009.
Director Paul Greengrass re-creates the shocking events with heart-pounding urgency, just as he did in his 9/11 drama United 93. There’s a sense that violence could erupt at any moment – and it often does – after the raiding party of four pirates, pressed into service by local warlords, takes the captain hostage.
Greengrass skilfully conveys the growing desperation of both Phillips and lead pirate Muse (Barkhad Abdi) during the five-day crisis which follows the initial, breathtakingly staged swoop going awry.
Phillips may be the one being held at gunpoint on the claustrophobic vessel, but Muse is revealed to be as much a victim as the situation plays out. Even when the US Navy turns up, the tension continues to escalate as the political ramifications of the kidnapping call for a decisive solution.
> The performances of the three leads – Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum – are terrific in comedy-tinged relationship drama LE WEEK-END (15: Artificial Eye).
Middle-class Birmingham couple Nick and Meg take the Eurostar to Paris in order to revisit the haunts of their honeymoon 30 years previously.
They hope that returning to the site of happier times will revive their marriage, which is finally on the rocks after many turbulent years.
Appalled by the state of their hotel, Meg insists they move to somewhere much more upmarket, even though they clearly can’t afford it.
But a chance encounter with Nick’s prosperous college friend Morgan offers a distraction when he invites the pair to an arty dinner party that changes their outlook on life.
Broadbent is as good as ever and Duncan is superb as the waspish, unfathomable Meg, while Goldblum steals scenes as the upholder of all the ideals that a downtrodden Nick has long since abandoned.
> Irvine Welsh’s invective-strewn novels have largely remained unfilmed and are even regarded as unfilmable, with the exception of Trainspotting.
FILTH (18: Lionsgate) could have been a case in point with its rough sex, drug abuse, political incorrectness and human cruelty.
James McAvoy gives a vanity-free performance that could be the crowning glory of his career as Det Sgt Bruce Robertson, a corrupt Edinburgh cop with a cocaine habit who plans to advance his own career by turning colleagues against each other.
He’s also hoping to persuade his ex-wife to take him back, but rapidly loses his grip on reality as the drug use spirals out of control and his web of lies grows increasingly complex. A top-notch supporting cast (Jim Broadbent, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Poots) raises the palatability of what remains a deeply unpleasant journey.
> TURBO (U: Twentieth Century Fox), a slice of computer-generated cartoonery, offers fast and furious fun.
The eponymous hero is a garden snail obsessed with motor racing who gets sucked into a car’s exhaust pipe and emerges having gained superspeed. This stroke of luck allows him to realise his dream of competing against human drivers in the Indianapolis 500 race.
Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Samuel L. Jackson provide the voices.