Review: Captain Phillips
For years now, there have been an enormous number of attempts by Somali pirates seeking to overtake foreign ships from around the world crossing waters they see as their own. With weapons, assaults, and the craving for a large financial payoff, the plans of these buccaneering gangs often involve a strategy that they hope will provide them with a large ransom from the captives or from the countries that employ them. Other times, some of these calculated attacks have succeeded, some have failed, and some have ended in brutal loss of life in the water or on land. As Americans, the one we have heard about is the most involved Captain Phillips of the “Maersk Alabama”.
His encounter with a quartet of Somali pirates occurred in April 2009 when the ship under his command found itself under siege while attempting to cross the Somali coast to its intended destination of Mombasa, Kenya. According to some, a safer route was available for the crew and the cargo ship they were aboard, but Captain Richard Phillips decided that was the approach he and his twenty-man crew were going to take. In addition, they had the training on what to do in a situation if they were under attack by a group of ship raiders looking to take them hostage. With all the knowledge given to you beforehand, nothing could have prepared you for the real thing as much as experience does.
After a while, the Massachusetts-born captain who now resides in Vermont probably wishes he had taken the road and wished for a safer voyage. That’s because the same types of Somali pirates anyone would have wanted to avoid end up hot on their freighter’s trail. This voracious mob of pirates is relentless due to their insatiable appetite to prove themselves and help improve their quality of life at home. There aren’t many opportunities in Somalia, and they realize they have to take what they can get in the way of work and hope. With that being the setting for the journey of terror that Captain Phillips will have to endure, you can see that it’s a desperate battle on both sides. One side wants to live, while the other side wants to discover life in any way possible.
In order for Phillips and his crew to save themselves from the group of four ill-intentioned young men, they had to rely on ingenuity and improvisation once all protocol procedures were thrown out the window and rendered useless once the pirates ascended. board your ship. Instead of leaning on what they were taught to do, they will have to play the game in a way that gets them home safely. That’s the goal, but it won’t be so simple when you have the group of deranged and armed captors as your main adversaries. With that in mind, unarmed prisoners need someone to take the initiative and lead them out of harm’s way. They find it, of course, in Captain Phillips, the man who is supposed to lead them anyway.
Based on what I’ve read about the book Captain Phillips is based on, a good deal of the story we’re told is a work of fiction. Some of the crew members who were aboard the “Maersk Alabama” say the real Captain Phillips isn’t quite the hero he claims to be and put them in the thick of trouble in the first place. That is essentially why I included the second paragraph in this review. He wasn’t as prominent in the movie as he probably should have been. I wasn’t on the boat, so I can’t really say who’s right or wrong in this case, but clearly things can get a little murky when the storyteller becomes the hero of his own. book. the adventure.
That being the case, I will say that Captain Phillips is a solid piece of fiction, to say the least, that is certainly based on true events which has to be a terrifying event for anyone unfortunate enough to be in such a dire situation. situation. For what he has to work with, I think Paul Greengrass does a good job of making the movie based on A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea a movie that contains plenty of positive qualities to legitimately hold your attention during its entire duration. When he looks at the fact that it’s based on real events that many of us already know about, that can be perceived as quite an achievement.
One thing that helps allow Captain Phillips to hold the viewer’s attention is the inclusion of the depth of the Somali pirates. The movie makes sure to at least try to humanize them as much or more than Phillips and his team. Because of the circumstances they find themselves in, you don’t have to do much to humanize Phillips and his crew, but I also felt that creating the pirates the way they do makes the movie itself more meaningful and realistic. The truth is that people in these types of vastly underdeveloped countries do not have many opportunities to progress in their lives, and some of them are willing to go overboard to achieve it.
Without this being included in Captain Phillips, I think we’re talking about a decent movie without much of a reason to watch the movie. It’s an added piece to the story that takes the movie to another level. Without that included, it wouldn’t be enough to recommend watching this. Not because it’s bad, but because the story is too predictable since everyone knows how it ends. It helps the movie as a whole, because it gives us more to focus on outside of what we already know. Greengrass also seems to want you to worry about one of the pirates. I won’t give anything away, but he does make you focus a little more on the subplots while everything else is going on. That’s always good if done correctly.
One of the things in Captain Phillips that took me a bit by surprise is the lack of acting from Tom Hanks. As an actor who has shown what he can do on film, we all know that Hanks has what it takes to deliver a great performance. However, in Captain Phillips, his strong acting chops aren’t really put to good use. While he stars in the lead role, he doesn’t have to do much for the most part when it comes to showing emotion or a lot of personality. The character of him is pretty basic throughout and frankly, he doesn’t need to do much in most cases. Towards the end, we get to see Hanks do more from an emotional perspective, but he wishes he’d had more than the few scenes to do it. I know it wasn’t necessary, but it’s Tom Hanks. Finding more for him to do is never a bad thing.
Overall, I think this film succeeds due to the humanization of the Somali pirates played by Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali, and the steady hand of Paul Greengrass as director. If it were not for those characteristics, in my opinion, the film would not have been worthy of a big screen release. I don’t know if this story is a story worth telling due to the fact that there have been and still are many takeover attempts still happening at sea by Somali pirates endangering the lives of many people. Is there anything in this story that separates it from any of those other situations besides the fact that the crew is American?
I don’t know. In my opinion, the story is not unique enough or big enough to make these events into a full feature film. Although I think it’s a good movie that I could see again one day, I can’t say that it’s something that needed to be told or put out for mass consumption. When compared to other movies based on true stories or true events, Captain Phillips doesn’t have much to say. And when he points out the fact that what we’ve been presented with may have been embellished to make Captain Richard Phillips look better to at least some of his former crew members, he makes me wonder if this should have been thrown out. Then again, if you just go by what it is and see it as some sort of work of fiction, Captain Phillips is good, but I still feel a little weird about the whole thing.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Mahat M. Ali
Issak Farah Samatar
Movie length: 134 minutes
Release date: October 11, 2013
Distributor: Columbia Pictures