Contrary to the opinion of one rude film goer who loudly belted out “Booorrrring!” right before the credits rolled for “Captain Phillips,” this film tops my list as one of my favorite movies of 2013.
“Captain Phillips” is based on the true story of Captain Rich Phillips piloting a cargo ship in 2009 with his crew when it is overtaken by Somali pirates. He is taken hostage before the Navy comes on the scene for the rescue. That’s the story in a nutshell and yet knowing the outcome to this story does not minimize the level of suspense felt throughout its entirety. I held my breath for most of it.
When I first saw the trailer, I wondered how they were going to pull a captivating movie out of so much time spent on a ship, but it was done and it was done well. This is even more impressive due to the fact that the men playing the pirates are not professional actors. The pirates are intimidating, but insecure. They are strong one minute, weak the next. It is an act of desperation that drives them. The pirates are young, out to get money for their “boss” to avoid being beaten or worse. Their “job” is to sail the seas looking for loot. They have nothing to lose and not that much more to gain.
When they overtake Captain Phillips’ ship, the Maersk Alabama, the crew has had the chance to hide. It is Captain Phillips who is confronted by the foursome of pirates and who protects his crew before ultimately, he is taken hostage by the pirate to a lifeboat back to the Somali shores.
The intensity is overwhelming. It is palpable. Tom Hanks still knows how to capture the screen and convince the audience that what is happening is real. Even though the reality is wrapped up in a 134-minute movie. His performance along with the sheer powerful presence of the appearance of the Navy SEALs command the screen. The calmness and assuredness in which they carry out the mission depicted in “Captain Phillips” makes me come to the same conclusion that I have always felt about the Navy SEALs. And that is that they are bad ass. There is no getting around it.
Remarkable. Outstanding. Incredible. These are some of the words I would use to describe “Captain Phillips.”
Final words: The movie is about real-life pirates. Starring Tom Hanks. Based on a true story. What part of that doesn’t sound intriguing?