Captain Richard Phillips, on his way to another mission, reassures his wife that he is feeling good about the trip. Flying to the Somali coast, the ship is set to travel through treacherous waters in order to make good time to their destination port. Meanwhile, Somali pirate Muse and his gang prepare to troll for a ship to pillage under the pressure of their warlord. While out at sea, Phillips gets his men prepared with drills to ensure they are ready for an attack, but they have to turn to the real thing when two skiffs, including Muse, appear on the radar and speed in their direction. While one of them turns off, Muse believes that they can take the ship. They cut back but Muse refuses to give up and sets back to the ship the next day. Phillips scrambles the crew again to fight off the pirates, but Muse succeeds at getting onto the ship and threatens to take over everything and everyone on-board.
Starring: Tom Hanks (Capt. Richard Phillips), Barkhad Abdi (Muse), Barkhad Abdirahman (Bilal), Faysal Ahmed (Najee), Mahat M. Ali (Elmi), Michael Chernus (Shane Murphy), Catherine Keener (Andrea Phillips), David Warshofsky (Mike Perry), Corey Johnson (Ken Quinn), Chris Mulkey (John Cronan), Yul Vazquez (Capt. Frank Castellano), Max Martini (SEAL Commander), Omar Berdouni (Nemo)
This film has a sizable cast but there are only two that really command the attention. Hanks was a phenomenal pick to lead this film. He commands the role with a New England accent and a calm-ish leadership style. Even in the face of adversity, his character was strong, but not more so than toward the end of the film where his emotional level is at a significant high. On the other side of the conflict, Barkhad Abdi has an eerie determination and shows an odd sense of strong leadership as well. While his character’s intentions are evil, there is a sense of his desperation.
Paul Greengrass is known for some significant dramas but this one takes a bit of a different tone. On the high seas around the Horn of Africa, there is little protection from the piracy, especially when the freighter ships are unable to carry weapons. Captain Phillips was a man of routine and preparation. He had his crew focus on concerning themselves with safety, but it was just after completing a drill that they had to immediately turn around and put it into action. They used everything at their disposal to fend off the pirates, but Muse successfully gets his team to attach the ladder and take over the bridge. While they may not have been able to get what they initially planned for, they were able to capture Phillips and planned to take him for ransom.
The film used emotion to truly capture some of the tense moments of this adaptation, though reports from the actual crew were unforgiving regarding the film’s accuracy. While Hanks played Phillips as a strong-willed, adaptable hero, there have been contentions that the real Phillips was not quite the man portrayed on-screen. There part of the film with the most accuracy seemed to be the middle of the story, as the pirates took over the ship but before Phillips ended up in the lifeboat. He did pretend to be a warship to scare off the pirates and distract them from finding the crew after they boarded, but he was apparently not as attentive to the pirate warnings and did not have the crew in a pirate drill at the time of the first attack. At the end of the film, he was actually more interactive after the scuffle but did have some negative aftershock upon being confronted by the doctor.
This film contains some of the best acting of the year and a compelling story of survival that may start slow but quickly pulls you in and does not let go until after its conclusion.
Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5