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Captain Phillips (2013)
Reviewed on 2014 February 15
I’d wanted to see this since I saw a preview for it, months ago, waiting in a darkened theater for something that I don’t even remember and doubtless wasn’t as good. This was great. There is a lot of debate on the IMDB as to how accurate the movie is and whether or not Phillips was at fault. I don’t know the true story behind what happened aboard the ship; I am reviewing the film only here.
Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) has a very mundane conversation with his wife on his way to what he thinks will be a routine gig: chartering the Maersk Alabama to Kenya. He’s wary of piracy and schedules extra drills for his crew, but beyond that isn’t over-alarmed. That changes when he sees the cargo ship is being singled out by a crew of determined Somalis, fueled by greed, a fear of their boss, and the drug khat. The Somalis have weapons that are almost as big as they are; the boat is armed with water hoses and the wits of the crew. The Somalis board and things go very south, very fast.
Two remarkable things happened here. The acting was incredible. The newbie Somalis outshone two-time-Oscar winner Hanks here, and Hanks was amazing as Phillips. Think about that for a moment. Barkhad Abdi, the newcomer who played Muse the Somali captain, was a chauffeur before this. The other striking thing is that this story was told in a way that conveyed Phillips’s ordeal without sugar-coating it, and still was subdued enough to garner a PG-13 rating. That didn’t diminish its power in any way.
Three chocolate morsels.