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Captain Phillips - Film Review

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Published October 19th 2013
A true story
Captain Phillips is a true story based on the 2009 hijacking and kidnapping of Captain Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama ship off the Somalian border by Somali pirates. The movie is based on the book, A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty.

Captain Phillips


The movie is very engaging and keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times. The facts are pretty straightforward; a container ship takes off from Salalah, Oman and is headed to Mombasa in Kenya sailing close to the waters near the Somalian border where a number of Somalian pirates are just waiting for a big ship and the right opportunity. Captain Richard Phillips and his crew are on the ship that has just left the Omani port Salalah. They have recently been informed of the threat of pirate attacks in that area, and are asked to be cautious.

An emergency drill on the ship soon turns into a real attack and the ship is approached by Somali pirates who manage to climb their way into the ship. Muse (Barkhad Abdi) the captain on the Somali pirate boat shows conviction in the role he plays. Not once is Muse and his team (that includes a teenager) intimidated by the size of the ship. Once the big Maersk ship is spotted, he leads his armed team to the ship, although another comrade pirate boat backs off. He prides himself to have conquered a 6 million dollar Greek ship the previous year, and is confident of pulling this off.

Just 4 armed pirates and a large ship like the Alabama, it seems like an impossible task to pull this off. The container ship has no armed guards at all, and this seems to be a fact the pirates know very well and are using to their advantage.

What follows is a series of events with the pirates trying to search and control the ship, the abduction of the Captain and their escape on a life boat. Biopics sometimes requires additional content to be added to make it entertaining for screen audience, however this movie is almost as close to the truth as possible.

The escape on the lifeboat during the second half is gripping. Captain Phillips is getting desperate and so are the pirates. And the US Navy ship Bainbridge is also following the lifeboat in an attempt to intercept it before it reaches the shores.

Tom Hanks is at his very best in the movie. He plays his character as a confident leader, who can make quick decisions when he needs to and protects the crew to the best of his abilities. Captain Phillips' main aim is to get the pirates off the ship without harming any of the crew members. To the pirates he comes across as a man with a solid head on his shoulders while negotiating with them. And at the end of the movie he is desperate to be free and be reunited with his family.

The film is directed by Paul Greengrass.
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