Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

One thing's for sure: Captain Phillips isn't sinking with critics.

In fact, Tom Hanks' new thriller based on the real-life 2009 hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates is earning major raves for its spine-tingling suspense and director Paul Greengrass' cinema verité style, indicating the flick will likely make some big waves at the box office.

Anchoring the story is the 57-year-old actor, who's garnering some of the best notices of his career and Oscar buzz for a riveting performance as the titular merchant mariner, Capt. Richard Phillips, who must protect the crew of his enormous cargo ship from danger after they've been taken hostage on the high seas.

Captain Phillips hits theaters on Friday. Here's a sampling of the reviews, most of which are glowing.

• "Part of me will always miss the high-­energy clown with the best fastball of any light ­comedian—and lament the awards-friendly move to Inspire and Enlighten. But the way [Hanks] disappears into the character here is unprecedented," writes Vulture's David Edelstein in admiration.

• "It falls to Hanks and his movie-star presence to anchor this ambitious enterprise, and he does some of his most impressive acting without saying a word," opines a blushing Lou Leminick of The New York Post, who called Captain Phillips one of the year's best films. "Just when I thought he couldn't get any better, Hanks tops himself in a devastating final sequence in which we see a man who is unable to process all that he's been through."

• "At every step, Hanks excels at showing what's really going on in the character's mind while maintaining his facade of almost folksy calm. It isn't one of the actor's rangiest roles, but it culminates in an eruption of emotional fireworks of exactly the sort Oscar dreams are made of," offers Variety's Scott Foundas, who said the film is "impeccably well-made" and a "gripping" if "grim survival tale."

• "The film rips right along and never relinquishes its grip. The format of the last-minute heroics goes back to the earliest Westerns and could well be accused of patness or being cliched—other than for the fact that it's what happened," observes The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy.

• While giving Captain Phillips a B-plus, Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman was less enthusiastic about the movie's second half, writing: "When Phillips is forced to board an enclosed lifeboat along with the pirates, the film's suspense begins to ebb. It's not that Greengrass' electrifying style fails him. It's that the movie, tethered for close to an hour to the strategies and tensions aboard the lifeboat, keeps giving us things to observe, but maybe not so much to discover."

• Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out New York on the other hand, panned the flick, saying that while Hanks does a "solid job," the "underwritten" script does the filmmaker no favors. "Greengrass remains a genius of claustrophobia, yet his better films...all beat with a stronger sense of central identification. He doesn't have as much to work with this time, and his solution is to slow down the pace. The result is more clarity, but also more monotony," notes the critic.

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