Captain Phillips
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Biography
IMDB rating:
Paul Greengrass
Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips
Faysal Ahmed as Najee
Mahat M. Ali as Elmi
Mohamed Ali as Asad
Barkhad Abdi as Muse
Michael Chernus as Shane Murphy
David Warshofsky as Mike Perry
Yul Vazquez as Captain Frank Castellano
Chris Mulkey as John Cronan
Corey Johnson as Ken Quinn
Catherine Keener as Andrea Phillips
Max Martini as SEAL Commander
Storyline: Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is - through director Paul Greengrass's distinctive lens - simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips' unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
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Exhausting, Thrilling and Powerful.
Paul Greengrass has proved his talents with two fantastic Bourne films, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, and two impressive real-life dramas, Bloody Sunday and United 93. Green Zone, while being a little like Bourne in Baghdad, was also a worthy thriller. Captain Phillips sees Greengrass deliver another true story to the big screen, proving that he is indeed the current king of cinematic re-enactments.

Tom Hanks gives one of his finest performances in a long time. His Captain Phillips is a professional, serious man that keeps his emotions in check while sternly ensuring his crew understands his expectations. As the situation escalates, his emotions begin to creep through. Leading towards a final release that is both heartbreaking and relieving. Hanks' character isn't explored too deeply, but we are nevertheless with him every step of the way.

In a fantastic casting choice, Tom Hanks is more than matched by Barkhad Abdi, who truly shines as the lead pirate. We're given more access than expected to this character – to all four pirates for that matter. Abdi manages to evoke empathy from a character that could have easily succumbed to stereotypical villainy. His performance provides a complex level of emotion to the proceedings. He knows that the situation has easily ran away from him, yet he naively decides to re-assure himself – and Captain Phillips – every chance he gets.

This is no-nonsense filmmaking of the highest order. Paul Greengrass' kinetic camera rises above the sometimes dizzying approach from some of his last films. The hand-held factor works beautifully here, ensuring the you-are-there level of realism is cranked to a ten at every second. As the events escalate, we are always kept aware of what is happening. While skipper jargon and navy terms are exclaimed every which way, care is placed on making sure we still know exactly what is going on. Billy Ray (Breach, State of Play, The Hunger Games) constructs a taut and clear screenplay that compliments Greengrass' filmmaking style.

To call this tense is an understatement. Henry Jackman's score pushes every sequence to an almost unbearable level of tension, Barry Ackroyd's cinematography beautifully captures the sweat and intensity of every moment, and Christopher Rouse's masterful editing brings it all home.

Exhausting and thrilling, Captain Phillips is all the more powerful with the knowledge that you're witnessing a true story. Paul Greengrass and co. have crafted an experiential film that you won't be forgetting in a hurry.

Tom Hanks at his best in a terrifyingly realistic true story.
Let me begin by saying that Captain Phillips, as an action film, turned out to be much more than I had initially anticipated. I was expecting half drama / half moderate action film with likely a good dash of political hopscotch. It's probably a good thing then, that I knew next to nothing about the actual story, because I love a good surprise. Captain Phillips is two hours of absolutely intense and absolutely uncompromising physical and psychological anxiety. At the end of it, I literally had to sit for a minute and just breathe, because this story gripped me by the throat like few films in recent memory have.

For those still unfamiliar with the story – this is a retelling of a historical event; the first US cargo ship in 200 years to be hijacked by pirates. During which, its captain Richard Phillips is taken hostage by the pirates, on his own lifeboat no less.

I got the sense that, somewhere in between the lines it was the director's intention to perhaps create an opening for a different story to be told: that of the Somali pirates, and why they do what they do. We are told that they are fishermen, and sheer poverty has driven them to these desperate acts. However, I don't know for sure if I'm supposed to feel any sympathy for these men, if I was supposed to 'understand' their motives – if this was Paul Greengrass' intention, it didn't work. Because no matter which way you swing it, these pirates are the bad guys and that's as clear as day. No degree of poverty or despair should be held as an excuse for such gruesome acts. Then again, if this was at all the point, I'm glad it wasn't hammered down in any way. It was merely a thought, and one conveyed subtly enough for anyone to make up their own mind about this issue.

What is clear here, is that these men (only four of them, surprisingly) committed a terrible crime. Not even so much the piracy itself, but the kidnapping and abuse of one individual. This individual is played by Tom Hanks, and he delivers one of his most eloquent and restrained performances to date. Here is a man, a captain of a large cargo ship, who is usually very much in control of his life and a clearheaded leader of his crew – but who, in the heat of reality, is just as human as any of us and simply does the best he can, even when (in spite of overwhelming protocol) one simply doesn't know what to do. Because protocol doesn't apply to the emotions that take control of both the captain and his captors, when they face a situation none of them anticipated. This is immediately one if my favourite performances by Tom Hanks, whose strength here lies mostly in the quiet moments in between all the chaos surrounding him. You can tell that he never stops thinking, never stops analyzing his situation, no matter what the pirates do to intimidate him. He conveys it all in the eyes – all the fear and anxiety, while constantly staying calm and collected, trying to talk to his captors, never losing his head. Even when fighting for his life, there is an assertive calmness that comes across so strongly that you can do nothing but admire this man. Hanks' performance is so convincing, it almost doesn't look like acting anymore... and that's a huge compliment.

The same goes for the other actors, especially the men playing the Somali pirates. Before being cast for this film, none of them had any acting experience, which makes their performances all the more impressive. Then, it also makes one wonder how much of a compliment it actually is when a director literally picks you off the street because apparently he thinks that you're perfectly fit for the part of a menacing pirate, but that's food for another discussion, another time... In any case, he was right about them. These men ARE absolutely convincing and authentic. Especially the leader of the gang, played by Barkhad Abdi, is right on the money. He needs nothing more than the look in his eyes to convince you that you're right to feel absolutely terrified of him.

From a technical standpoint, Captain Phillips is very well made. My only grievance is Greengrass' typical trademark: the shaky handy-cam. Here and there it's almost enough to make you seasick, and I really wish he would ease up on this gimmick, because although it adds to the feeling of suspense and chaos, that doesn't weigh up to the headache it causes. Steady-cam was invented for a reason, mister director. Use it. Still, the other qualities of the film are easily strong enough to make up for this one point of critique. The pacing is excellent, it grips you like a pitbull and never lets go until the credits roll in. Colouring and lighting effects are perfectly used for an incredibly realistic feel and claustrophobic atmosphere. Everything feels very real and absolutely no sentimental plot devices are exploited here. Top-notch screen writing.

I can do nothing other than strongly recommend this film. It is very intense and at times very violent, and definitely one of the best films in its genre. And if this doesn't convince you, see it for one of Tom Hanks' best performances of his career.
Captain Philips is enthralling with Tom Hanks giving stupendous performance
Actual event films are fascinating and exciting to watch as they take you to the new world which will give a completely new dimension. Captain Philips has a perfect ingredients with veteran actor Tom Hanks and director of Bourne series, Paul Greengrass joining hands to give full- fledged thriller.

Based on actual events set in 2009, Captain Philips tells the story of survival of Richard Philips, captain of US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama which was the first American ship in 200 years to be hijacked by Somali pirates.

From the director of action-thriller Bourne Platinum, Supremacy and extraordinary United 93, Paul Greengrass gives you another touted real- time account of the hijacking. Right into the film and your eyes will be glued to the silver screen with solid screenplay. The fake call made by Philips to sway off the Pirates, the interaction between the head pirate and Philips and the negotiation between US Navy Seals to rescue the Captain are spellbinding. Hats off to Greengrass for handling such crucial subject with aplomb. Tom Hanks is classic as Captain Philips. He is incomparable and emotes so well in the scene when he was rescued and goes for the medical check-up and barely could speak. Barkhad Abdi was outstanding as the head pirate.

Captain Philips is enthralling with Tom Hanks giving stupendous performance. Excellent 4.5/5
Greengrass strikes again
British director Paul Greengrass delivers the goods in this taut and terrifying true-life thriller centred around Somali pirates and the innocent civilians they put at risk. Greengrass shapes a true story of hijacking on the high seas and turns it into an incredibly suspenseful story that bears all the hallmarks of the likes of UNITED 93.

The thing about Greengrass is that he knows how to build suspense, and he knows how to deliver thrilling intensity. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is full of incredible scenes in which the tension is ratcheted up stage by stage, until things explode into excitement. This is a film of two halves, with the hijacking taking up the first half while the second half turns into a single-location thriller along the lines of Hitchcock's LIFEBOAT. Both halves complement each other and prove a satisfying whole.

I'm no fan of Tom Hanks, but CAPTAIN PHILLIPS sees him deliver a strong performance as the testy, unlikeable captain put through his paces by the Somalis. The Somali actors are excellent in their roles, and I particularly liked the differentiation of character in the pirate gang - you feel like you've got to know them come the end. The cat and mouse games between crew and pirates are expertly staged and the pace never flags despite the lengthy running time. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is nothing less than a modern-day classic.
Voices of the voiceless
"Of the crooked timber, no straight thing can ever be made." - Immanuel Kant

Paul Greengrass directed "United 93" in 2006. The film was marketed as an "apolitical" and "objective" account of the September 11th attacks, but was devoid of all historical context, and so functioned more as a Pentagon propaganda piece. Here was a film about a handful of state assisted Saudi Arabians attacking at least 3 high profile US buildings which totally ignored the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia, totally ignored how these attacks were used as a pretext to launch two illegal wars, totally ignored US ties to Al Qaeda, the group purportedly behind the attacks (on the very day of 9/11, the US were collaborating with Al Qaeda within the Macedonia civil war), and totally ignored both the motivations behind the attacks and what certain Saudi's stood to gain from another Western crusade. To this date, the 9/11 Commission, the White House, FBI, CIA and British government have failed to provide proof (not garnered from water-boarding) that Al Qaeda carried out 9/11 or that Al Qaeda chieftain Osama Bin Laden masterminded the attacks, let alone that these groups or individuals constitute the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, the two countries upon whom wars of retaliation were subsequently waged. Osama Bin Laden was killed in 2011 (again no evidence was presented to the public). In 2001, before the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush administration turned down offers by Afghanistan's Taliban groups to turn Bin Laden peacefully over to US authorities.

Like "United 93", "Captain Phillips" revolves around a vessel being hijacked. Here the Maersk Alabama, a Danish/American container ship, is boarded by four armed Somali pirates. The pirates battle with the Alabama's crew, before escaping with the ship's captain (Tom Hanks) aboard a lifeboat. The United States Navy then arrives. They surround this lifeboat with a small fleet and proceed to assassinate three pirates. The fourth survives, and is subsequently jailed in America. Captain Phillips survives.

Whilst Greengrass obviously sympathises with both his Somalis and the crew of the Alabama, you simply can't frame a film as a thriller, or depend heavily on the US Navy loaning you a flotilla of aircraft carriers and destroyers, and not expect it to be anything other than compromised. This is ultimately a film in which the Somalis are manic bad guys (high on drugs, no less), in which the Alabama's crew are good guys "delivering aid to Africa" (most of their cargo wasn't relief aid), in which all context is ignored and in which the US Navy does "murderous but wholly necessary things". The film is matter-of-fact to a fault. This is all there is to reality, it says. Accept it.

But as everyone knows, to the point of being smugly annoying, that is not "all there is". The Somali pirates are largely a result of Western companies dumping nuclear and toxic waste off Somalia's coast, coupled to severe illegal over-fishing by foreign super trawlers (300 million dollars worth of seafood stolen from Somalia each year). The United Nations would itself release numerous reports blaming toxic waste for mutations, deaths, diseases and illnesses within Somalia. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia, would say: "There is uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury, industrial, radioactive, hospital and chemical waste killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean." Why can companies do this? Because Somalia's government has all but collapsed, thanks to Western Empires deliberately destabilizing and developmentally arresting the nation, funding warlords, dictators (Siad Barre et al) and instigating proxy wars with border nations. This has been going on, uninterrupted, since the late 1950s; any local government body not beholden to Western corporate interests, and which attempts to nationalise resources, will be destroyed.

In the early 2000s, Somalia began to fight back. To oppose US-backed warlords, right-wing religious factions began to unite, some under the name The Union of Islamic Courts. The UIC united almost all of Somalia and provided stability, but was nevertheless swiftly demonized by the West – their unwitting creators - as "Islamist terrorists". Because the CIA solves everything with bullets and blood, the US and UK then pushed its Ethiopian puppets into invading Somalia. Tens of thousands died and the UIC was pushed back. Tired of all this crap, and forged in a cocktail of anarchy, the militant group Al Shabaab was formed, partially to fight off Western and Ethiopian gangs. Today, they are US public enemy number 1.

Whilst Greengrass undoubtedly intends his film to be a work of social critique, possibly like some of his earlier pictures ("The Green Zone"), "Captain's" narrow scope hampers things. You can not tackle such a loaded event in such a constrictive manner and expect it not to set up, intentionally or otherwise, many false assumptions. One senses Greengrass attempting something approaching satire – the idea of a film in which a zillion dollar US fleet is absurdly pitted against four lowly pirates who literally struggle to "climb to the top of a (socioeconomic?) ladder" is genius – but satire is completely beyond him. Juxtaposed scenes in which Hanks and our pirates talk about "fighting for promotions" feel, for example, reductive rather than enlightening.

Beyond politics, the film is tense, well shot, but also repetitive and overlong. The casting of Hanks brings dubious (and possibly ironic) connotations, Hanks the poster boy for a post-John Wayne Americana ("Apollo 13", "Private Ryan", "Band of Brothers"), genteel but packing heat. Philosopher Jacques Ellul once predicted that future propaganda would increasingly portray itself as being "apolitical", "naturalistic" and cloak itself in "realism". Greengrass' military-men are emblematic of this shift: grim, stoic and fixated on "just doing their jobs", everything forever outside their purview and moral radar. Greengrass' camera adopts the same stance.

6/10 – Wastes a good premise.
All aboard but no pirates allowed
Paul Greengrass is a political writer and director with his roots in journalism. This film is based on true facts of the hijacking in 2009 of the MV Maersk Alabama and the book written by Captain Richard Phillips himself which makes the film slanted itself although Captain Phillips himself has commented that it makes himself out as more of a hero that he was.

Tom Hanks plays Captain Philips who is a company man. His job is to get cargo from one part of the world to another as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is how modern shipping works. He finds, probably because he got to near Somalian land that he has attracted the attention of fast boat pirates.

Captain Phillips first tries to evade the pirates but when they board his ship he plots to get them off as fast as possible without his crew being harmed.

Barkhad Abdi is the leader of the pirates who soon finds when the US navy intervenes that he might have bitten off more than he could chew.

The film is intense when the pirates board but it never totally engaged this viewer, especially when its let down by some silliness such as Phillips when told to sit still by a trigger happy pirate lunges for some pen and paper.

Its as the screenplay had to be boosted to make it more exciting, which makes you think the real life tale, although terrifying for the crew was not thrilling enough to be made into a film in the first place. Like the ship Captain Phillips sailed on, its efficient but lacks heart and soul.
Gripping film that will take you hostage to the very end...
You got to admire film directors and producers who take a gamble. With this film they could have played safe and stuck to clichés. Yet instead this film is a brave portrayal of its characters in a tense situation that is as fascinating as any piece of great fiction.

We have Tom Hanks playing the captain, portraying the title role with a mixture of emotions without the need to force feed the point to the viewers. Courageous but frightened, intelligent but still feeling lost. It's an intriguing position.

The protagonists are Somalian pirates, who rather than being written as some set of simple Bond villains, they instead are shown to be again a mixture of characteristics: loathsome and greedy, but really chancers who are ill-prepared and desperate, in over their heads. To the immense credit of the director, he has avoided some cheap simple and racist creation, and you feel you get an insight into these men's mentality.

This was a tense thriller, a very frightening film too. This fact based film based on true events does leave the viewer on edge wondering what will happen next. It does surprise and all will find this film engrossing despite the discomfort they may feel through many points of the film.

I'd recommend it highly. It's a truly great film.
Near the top of the Hanks ladder
Based on true events, Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips is the rarest of thrillers, the kind that relies on neither distracting special effects nor circumspect character development. Driven by a powerful, soul-baring performance by the inimitable Tom Hanks, the movie never lags, never oversells the plight of its characters, never reduces anyone or anything to mere caricature.

Hanks is the titular captain of the United States container ship MV Maersk Alabama, cruising along the coast of Somalia with a full load and heading toward the horn of Africa. Two skiffloads of armed Somalis close in, ready to board the vessel. They're pirates, working for a warlord in their impoverished country, and they smell opportunity.

If this were a standard action flick, we might see the heroism of Phillips and his motley crew as they fight the evil pirates and save the world. It's not so here. There are nuances afoot; for once, we get the perspective of the lead pirate (Barkhad Abdi) without falling into the easy trap of feeling empathy toward him.

The pirates board the giant ship, clearly pleased with their find. Muse (Abdi) quickly proves himself to be a strong, humanistic leader; he's single minded (where's the crew? where's the goods?) but not sinister. His gang includes a strong man with a quick temper and Muse's own relative, who'd begged to come along on the mission - a mission that, when successful, would go a long way to improving their lives.

The movie is told in two distinct halves: the time spent by the pirates on the Maersk as they search in vain for treasure and crew, and the time spent in the ship's lifeboat as they make their way to Somalia. The villains are conflicted and desperate. And armed. But they're quickly immersed in an impossible situation.

This is one of the toughest, most naked performances of Hanks' stellar career. It's sometimes painful and heart wrenching to watch. He's an Everyman, per usual, but he's not also a savior or a hero. He doesn't suddenly develop super strength and overpower the bad guys. He's just a guy in charge of a boat and its passengers.

Matching him wit for wit while frantically trying to keep his own wits about him is Abdi as the skinny, intelligent Muse, seemingly a veteran of high piracy (though not against huge container ships). Abdi is a wonder to watch; unpredictable and cunning but a little greedy and rapidly running out of viable options. Truly a talent to look out for, Abdi nails this role.

The ending is predictable only in the most general sense. Bill Ray's screenplay does not duck some plausible consequences to the actions of each main player and leaves us with a scene that is as emotionally overpowering as anything in Hanks' previous Philadelphia.

It seems that every time Tom Hanks makes a good movie, people begin to label it as "Oscar bait," as if the movie were created just as a vehicle to earn an award. Captain Phillips delivers a tight, action-packed story fraught with none of the usual missteps of the genre, and if it is indeed rewarded with the highest of honors, it will be well deserved.
A fantastic film that further emphasises Tom Hanks as one of the greatest of all time
The fact that this film is based on true events that occurred not too long ago just adds to the fantastic achievement that has been accomplished with this film. This film documents the day Captain Phillips had his cargo ship boarded by four somalian pirates and how his situation turned into a hostage situation. Now I cannot believe for one moment that Tom Hanks didn't get nominated for an Oscar for his performance as this is the Tom Hanks show and he carries this film on his back and his phenomenal performance is the best thing about this movie. The Somalian pirates are the only real supporting characters that we are given and they are pretty good especially being new to the acting scene I was impressed. The story is another great positive as it feels so realistic and real even though the story could have felt boring and dull it really doesn't and you put yourself with Captain Phillips and you really feel for his situation. The script is also great and the way the pirates and Hanks deliver their lines adds to this whole experience of entrapment that this character is going through. The style of the film is similar to the story as it is really realistic and gritty and with the use of sound and performance it really truly builds the tension and sets the suspense up for this thriller of a film. This film is fantastic and has hardly any flaws with only a few more detailed supporting characters possibly helping it but overall this is a fantastic realistic film.
Based on facts... Loosely based on facts
This is a pretty good movie, but if you are looking for a documentary of what really happened move along. There is a whole lot of Hollywood taking liberties with the story. Half the crew of the ship is currently in lawsuits with the shipping line because they say the captain put them in danger in his quest to maximize profits. There is no question that this whole saga was a political showcase for the United States and this movie maintains this showcase. It could be used as a recruiting tool. In summary, I found the movie entertaining and interesting, but I was annoyed with how much it veered from the truth. It would be much better if it were more factual.
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