Make room, Oscar season 2013, for newcomer Barkhad Abdi, who is earning raves from critics seeing Somali pirate thriller “Captain Phillips” for the first time. We all remember this true life standoff that happened in 2009. Tom Hanks plays Cpatain Richard Phillips in the film, which chronicles how the captain and his crew of the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama were taken hostage by four pirates. The pirates ultimately absconded with the Captain in a lifeboat, leaving the other crew members unharmed, and a shootout with the US Navy ensued.
Abdi plays the leader of the Somali pirates, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, who can be seen confronting Hanks again and again in the trailer below. Hitfix declares the newcomer easily goes toe to toe with Hanks and nearly steals the whole movie, is so believable that he “feels like a local plucked for the production” and is “captivating from frame one.” Meanwhile, Variety is equally glowing in their review, praising Abdi for elevating the material he’s given: “In a movie that affords little dimensionality to its characters, Abdi finds notes to play you scarcely realized were there, until this reedy young man with jutting brow looms as large as Othello.”
In a movie with one titular character who’s played by Tom Hanks, we hardly expected there’d be a breakout, even Oscar-worthy turn from a newcomer, but mark this one down as a must-see. “Captain Phillips” was directed by Paul Greengrass and will be released on October 11th. See the trailer for a taste of Abdi’s performance below.