Review: Captain Phillips

Academy Award nominated director Paul Greengrass (“United 93,” “The Bourne Supremacy”) brings a powerful true story to the big screen in his latest feature “Captain Phillips.” The film is based on the true events recounted by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty, in the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea.”

Tom Hanks gives a tour-de-force performance in “Captain Phillips”

In 2009, Captain Richard Phillips, portrayed by Academy Award winner Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump,” “Splash”), was on a voyage on the U.S.S. Maersk Alabama, to deliver supplies to the port of Mombasa. The unarmed cargo ship, was treading through international waters, where reports of piracy situations have escalated.

The Maersk Alabama was 145 miles off the coast of Somalia, when the unthinkable occurred.

Listen up! We have been boarded by armed pirates. Stay hidden at all costs. We don’t want any hostages. We will follow procedures to lock-down, go dead in the water and wait for help. Stick together. It will be alright“-Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips

A small crew of Somali Pirates, led by Barkhad Abdi as Muse, have hijacked the Maersk Alabama, in the hopes of ransoming the ship in exchange for the ship’s substantial insurance money. Muse is having difficulty securing the ship since the crew is subtly but effectively making the pirates’ task difficult, so if he can’t have the ship, he’ll have the next best thing: it’s captain.

Barkhad Abdi as Muse leads a crew of Somali Pirates to take the American ship and hold it for ransom in “Captain Phillips”

Muse and the crew decide to take Captain Phillips hostage in the ship’s lifeboat and make their way to Somalia, where they hope to fetch a pretty price for Captain Phillips’ life.

It was supposed to be easy. I take ship, ransom, nobody get hurt“-Barkhad Abdi as Muse

Again, difficulty arises from the Somali Pirates when the U.S. Navy organizes a rescue situation for Captain Phillips. They have decided that no matter what, Captain Phillips does not set foot on Somalian soil.

“It’s over. The Navy is not going to let you win. They would rather sink this boat, than let you win”-Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips

“Captain Phillips” is seamlessly established thriller that easily transitions from the three phases of the film: the hijacking, the kidnapping and the extraction.

Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games,” “State of Play”) has written a quality screenplay based on the materials given to him and Paul Greengrass did a bang-up job in the director’s chair.

This is a harrowing recount of an intense situation and it is simply astonishing how well it is depicted and adapted it is for the big screen.

The leading characters of Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi steal the show and the movie is set up to be an inevitable collision course for both characters. The problem is that both characters, in a way, outshine the supporting characters including Muse’s crew, portrayed by Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali.

“Captain Phillips” gets by on intensity, honesty and sheer power in terms of the acting, writing, directing and editing, and this is why it is one of the year’s best executed motion pictures.

 

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