In praise of … Paul Greengrass | Editorial

He handles his political subjects without being sentimental or exploitative, delivering consistently compelling thrillers

When Paul Greengrass took over the Bourne franchise, with Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum, he did much more than repeat a well-worked formula. He re-invented the action genre, with the grittier-style popularised through the use of cinéma vérité. "To be perfectly honest, I couldn't afford tripods," he said. The journalist in him (he started as a director for World in Action) repeatedly draws him to political subjects – the Falklands (Resurrected), the Irish civil rights movement (Bloody Sunday), 9/11 (United 93) and now Captain Phillips, a taut thriller based on a Somali pirate attack on a US container ship. He handles these subjects without being sentimental or exploitative, delivering consistently compelling thrillers on difficult subjects. Like Christopher Nolan, another successful British film-maker, Greengrass produces a fast-paced film for a mainstream audience, without compromising the intelligence of the script.

• This article was amended on 11 October 2013. The earlier version referred to "a taught thriller".

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