Based on recent true events about the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama, Captain Phillips takes Tom Hanks into the ocean to captain a ship that is taken over by pirates. Not the kind of pirates who say “Argh” and have a parrot on their shoulder. Instead Somali pirates who look like starved California Raisins with automatic rifles. If you are expecting an action-packed thrill ride, you will get just that but not done like a 90’s hostage movie. The authenticity of this movie really grabs a hold of you and toys with your emotions. “Look at me, look at me, I am the captain now.” Powerful.
Off to a slow and unnecessary start, the film opens showing that Phillips has a wife who he loves dearly. These elements of his life could have been introduced at a later point if done correctly. Not that I am saying there is anything wrong with how the film was shot, I just would have done it differently. I can say that, because I am the one typing this. If it were me though, I would have started the movie right at the point where Captain Phillips notices the Somalis. From there, I would have flashed back to their back-stories and what has now lead them both to this point. Kind of how Gravity starts out; just opens and you are floating around in space.
You have the ability to see this movie through both the eyes of Captain Richard Phillips and crew and also that of the Somali pirates. The news only shows us reported details of the story but does not paint the picture of what actually happened. There is always two sides to every story and the media will only portray one of those. At no point are you rooting for the Somalians, but, you can at least understand their intentions and why this is a part of their life.
Captain Phillips puts a strong focus on the protagonist, Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), and the antagonist, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). To breakdown the acting is tough for this film. Tom Hanks is a great actor and his man boobs sweat right through his blue shirt but throughout the movie, he never really wows you. That is, until the end where it is as if he spent the whole movie bottling up his emotions to give a performance that leaves not a dry eye in the house. As far as Barkhad Abdi’s performance, I don’t know. I literally thought he was a real Somalian pirate who they cast for this film. Apparently, he was just a limo driver in Minnesota.
The crew of both Captain Phillips and Muse are highlighted throughout the film as they are close to the characters but none of them become a focus. Another win for the movie. There was no need to build up a strong role for a supporting actor on the side of the Navy because it was the collective Navy crew that went in and got the job done. That kind of writing is a good tribute to the United States Navy.
In closing, I highly suggest seeing this film. Comment below when you see it and let me know your thoughts!
By: Pat Hanavan