Captain Phillips | Film Review

[title size=”1 to 6″ style=”options: default, sidebar”]Letter Grade: A[/title]

By Miles Rothlisberger

“Don’t worry, Captain. No one got hurt.” Those chilling words alone stick with the viewer long after watching the latest Tom Hanks movie, Captain Phillips, let alone the rest of the gripping and intense experience that deals with the terrors of modern-day pirating and the situations that help cause and drive it.

The film, based on an actual true story from 2009, tells of the Maersk Alabama ship hijacking by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks, well-established as an actor at this point, stars as Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama and father to a struggling son. As Phillips takes command of the ship on its expedition through the Oman Sea off the African coast, it falls victim to the Somali pirates led by an Abduwali Muse, played by Barkhad Abdi. What follows next is an intense hostage situation where Captain Phillips must take action to protect his crew and even himself, while also keeping the pirates relaxed.

Hanks and Abdi alone sell the movie with their relationship. Just as the older Captain Phillips is in command of the ship as a wise and experienced worker, the younger Muse is in command of his band of pirates. While the ship at is held at gunpoint, Muse maintains confident ambition and surprising rationality.

The humane captain and the dangerous pirate have a mutual understanding of each other which strengthens their character development and the intriguing interactions between the two as they act towards the goals of the parties that they represent. The other characters in the movie are also adequately portrayed and have more place than just as innocent bystanders or merciless killers, yet Hanks and Abdi definitely steal the show. Hanks’ fatherly tone is relatable and at times  realistically flawed, and Abdi’s mature, yet youthful presence,allows the audience to feel sympathy yet not outright support.

The film raises tension and suspension in the audience while often putting viewers on the edge of their seat with adrenaline. Captain Phillips portrays the harsh realism that a “pirate hijacking” would entail, what with all the loud shouts, hiding, begging, and fired-bullets. However, at the same time, it also portrays themes that deal with honor and pride, fatherhood, responsibility, and respect. This combination of intelligence and depth, drama and action makes the film altogether a well-balanced piece that shows that entertaining an audience can also include stimulating them.

Captain Phillips most definitely holds its own as a wonderfully executed film. The character interaction is interesting and emotionally-driving; the themes it tackles are realistic while not being too preachy; and the actual presentation is absolutely entertaining. As it stands, Captain Phillips holds great potential not only as a realistic historical movie, but as a film in general.