How did Tom Hanks wind up on that boat in Captain Phillips? Well, it all started when he graduated from the University of Alabama and a military recruiter asked him if he had ever given any thought to his future.
No, that's not the actual backstory of Captain Richard Phillips, the humble hero of Paul Greengrass's terrific new film, but if you choose to read Tom Hanks's filmography in a certain way, you can draw a clear path from Greenbow, Alabama to outer space to a desert island to the deck of the Maersk Alabama. The above video, posted by Official Comedy, mashes up Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Cast Away and Captain Phillips in a way that actually seems to make them seamlessly bleed into each other. Sure, plenty of people have made the Cast Away joke when seeing Hanks shuttled off in that lifeboat in the Captain Phillips promo, but did you think about the ending of Apollo 13 leading directly into the desert island story? Or about how Gary Sinise's missing legs from Forrest Gump are a pretty good reason for him not to go on that mission to space?
Once you see Captain Phillips you'll hopefully marvel less at all these connections and more about how Hanks allows you to forget about all of them, giving a performance that's not necessarily showy or even transformative, but so rooted in the story that you never think once about Forrest Gump or Jim Lovell or anyone else. The movie, which opens this Friday, puts Hanks in the all-American hero role he's good at, but allows him to dig deep and give a performance that's genuinely surprising-- I'm not the only one who thinks it will get him serious awards attention. You might go in thinking some jokey riff about how it's a prequel to Cast Away, but by the end I promise you won't be thinking of anything but the performance in front of you.
See a bit of it for yourself in this clip from the movie below, and see Captain Phillips in full starting this weekend.