Movie Review: Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks

Captain Phillips is based on the true story of Somali pirates boarding an American freighter in 2009 in the hopes of holding the crew and cargo hostage for ransom. From what I later read about the story, the movie follows it very closely, and Tom Hanks should get an Oscar nomination for his role in the film.

Captain Richard Phillips (Hank) embarks on the Maersk Alabama, heading towards Mombasa, Kenya, while carrying cargo and supplies for Africans. Soon, however, the ship is hijacked by Somali pirates, who are overjoyed to learn that it's an American ship - it means a big pay day for them. Captain Phillips saw them coming, and his crew hid in the steam/boiler room, but the pirates want to look around the ship, and he's worried that they'll find the crew. He makes a deal with them: he'll give them the $30,000 in the ship's safe as well as the lifeboat, as long as they get off the ship. They agree, but at the last minute, they steal him too, and he's stuck as a hostage until another deal can be negotiated to get him back safely.

The acting was superb in this film, and I read online that the men who played the pirates are Somalis who immigrated to the U.S., and for most, this was their first acting role, which is doubly impressive. Catherine Keener has a small part as Phillips' wife, who we see in the beginning of the movie, but other than that, this is Hanks' show, first and foremost, and he succeeds tremendously throughout.

Yes, see this film. I had not heard of the actual incident until I researched it later, and the filmmakers do a good job of making the situations very tense, with the possibility of death or being maimed very high. I know now that (SPOILER) Phillips does make it home to his family, but during the film I did not, and some of the risk that Hanks' character takes makes you believe that he might be killed. The movie is a bit long, clocking in at about 2 hours and 14 minutes, but it flies by quickly, and the script is well-written as well. I expect to see Hanks as well as the movie itself gather lots of nominations when award season comes around, and this is definitely a film worth seeing in the theater.

Captain Phillips is in theaters today, October 11th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 134 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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