Jeffrey Overstreet’s review:
I believed in this, every step of the way, like I wanted to believe in Gravity. I was never distracted by the music. Nothing ever felt like the filmmakers showing off. The characters all seemed persuasively human. Nothing felt like a "money shot" or a trailer-ready clip. Nothing felt like an Oscar bait moment.
Every emotional moment felt earned to me, especially regarding what happens to a person after they realize the Event is over and they have permission to let go and fall to pieces. I've been through my share of those moments, and it all felt true to life and yet specific to one man, one experience.
Right away, I wondered if the structure had been inspired by this Radiohead video. The compare/contrast storylines of the two captains was an excellent decision by Paul Greengrass and Billy Ray, making of this movie an exemplary alternative to the Go America! crowdpleasing in which most filmmakers would have indulged. And yet, it never becomes a Message Movie... which is also a credit to the filmmakers' restraint.
I'd rate this among Hanks' finest performances, as he strikes all the right notes without ever becoming showy, settling for precise-but-unremarkable instead of highly idiosyncratic and overly mannered. Still, it'd be a crime to overlook the convincing turns by the actors who play the Somali pirates.