Reel Watchers: Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips

I have read several articles and seen reviews of "Captain Phillips," and I was really looking forward to the movie coming to town. Now, that's usually the kiss of death for a movie, but this film is an exception.

Tom Hanks plays the title character, Capt. Richard Phillips. He is a no-nonsense, responsible captain of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, which is carrying containers of food and water for impoverished countries in the area, including Somalia. His ship is unarmed and they are traveling in a known pirate corridor along the Somali coastline.

We see how the Somalis are pressured to hijack vessels for the "bosses" and how the teams are developed. The team picked by Muse (played by Barkhad Abdi, a Somali-American) is successful in boarding the Maersk Alabama and the promise of a big payday heightens the tension.

A side-note: The director, Paul Greegrass, didn't allow Tom Hanks to mix with the "Somali pirates" prior to filming. So when the pirates shot into the bridge, that's the first time Tom Hanks actually saw the pirates. The look on his face was actually fear. He said it made the hair on the back of his neck stand up! And when Muse says "Look at me, look at me, I am the captain now," it was ad-libbed and effective.*

Phillips tries to make a deal with the four pirates, giving them $30,000 from the ship's safe and access to a lifeboat. However, they take Phillips with them, hoping for a bigger payday.

Over the next several days we see the decline of the pirates. They are thirsty and hungry. The youngster doesn't know what to do and has an injured foot, Muse (the pirate captain) has an infected hand, and the other two "trigger happy" pirates are working on pure adrenaline. Enter the U.S. Navy and the Navy SEALs. All is resolved, and Phillips is saved.

Another side note: The medic that "treated" Tom Hanks on the USS Bainbridge at the conclusion was the real medic on the ship.*

I was riveted for the entire two-plus hours of the movie. Tom Hanks was exceptional as Phillips, as were the pirates, four friends from Minnesota who answered a casting call on a whim. I give it the max Miners and encourage everyone to see this film.

*CBS - Sunday Morning 10/6/13