In 2009, the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama with Captain Phillips in charge is hijacked by a small crew of armed Somalia pirates looking to make a big score for their tribal leader back home. Phillips and his crew follow procedure and radio in for assistance as well as use their fire hoses to try to keep the pirates from being able to hook a ladder onto their ship and board the vessel. Realizing he’s fighting a losing battle and it’s only a matter of time before the pirates get on board, Phillips orders his crew to hide down below in the engine room of the ship and to stay hidden at all costs. The captain doesn’t want to give the pirates any chance of taking hostages.
Once on board, the hostile take-over of the ship turns into a battle of wits between Phillips – trying to keep his crew from being discovered as well as a way to get the pirates off his ship as quickly and peacefully as possible – and Muse, the pirate leader determined to find the crew and take as many hostages as he can with him back to Somalia.
Based on a true story and masterfully directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum), Captain Phillips is an incredibly intense, riveting film with an unforgettable performance by Tom Hanks. The scenes on board the U.S. Maersk Alabama in which the pirates are confronting Phillips and begin a slow, careful search through the ship for its crew are both suspenseful and terrifying, and they’re sure to have audiences on the edge of their seats. Newcomers Barkhad Abdi and Barkhad Abdirahman are terrific as the pirate leader and his forceful henchman who constantly argue and disagree about what to do next and how to handle the captain who they nickname ‘Irish’ after he identifies himself as an Irish American.
Tom Hanks gives his best performance since Saving Private Ryan as Captain Richard Phillips, a wise, middle-aged professional seaman who bravely takes charge of dealing with the pirates and constantly puts himself in harm’s way to protect his crew and his ship. It’s a powerful performance and the last scene is perhaps the most moving and finest piece of acting he has ever delivered on screen.
Gripping, compelling, and suspenseful, Captain Phillips is without a doubt one of the best films of the year and is sure to be remembered and nominated during Oscar season. Don’t miss it!
Captain Phillips is rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use.
– By Kevin Finnerty
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