A number of years ago the television show “South Park” did an episode about the Somali pirates. Cartman (Trey Parker) and some of the other boys set out to join them because when they hear about the pirates they think they are the pirates of old, with eye patches, peg-legs and such. After they join, one of the pirates asks the boys why would they want this life and shares the only reason he does it is because his family is starving to death and he has no choice. Now the real life story of the Somali pirate hijacking of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama in 2009 is being told in the new movie “Captain Phillips” starring Tom Hanks.
Based on true events, “Captain Phillips” details how the pirates were able to take the Alabama, where the pirates came from and the subsequent kidnapping of Captain Phillips (Hanks). The movie is directed by Paul Greengrass who has directed other action thrillers like “The Bourne Ultimatum”, “Green Zone” and “United 93”. Here, again, he delivers another intense drama.
You may have read in the news on how the real crew of the Alabama says Captain Phillips is no hero and how his recklessness is a big reason why the hijacking happened in the first place. Well, that’s why they use the phrase “Based on true events” because it does allow the filmmakers plenty of leeway to tell the story. What matters in this case is whether audience members will enjoy this ride and most will. Even if they know what’s going to happen in the end, Greengrass serves up plenty of intensity, suspense and excitement as audience will get caught up in the captain’s plight.
Tom Hanks once again delivers an amazing performance. If you have heard the real Captain Phillips speak, you will notice that Hanks captured all his intonations perfectly. To say his character goes through a roller-coaster of emotions throughout the movie would be putting it lightly, but Hanks manages to constantly give a very realistic performance and never overplays the part. It would be a surprise if he is not for around award season this year.
Tom Hanks is not the only one who deserves praise for “Captain Phillips”. Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali play the four Somali pirates and they all hold their own very well. While all four were great, Abdi, who plays the leader of the pirates, is the real standout. He can be both frightening, yet garner our sympathy as well. The movie shows that these are not necessarily evil men, but desperate people who really have no choice in what they do.
It is not often two high quality movies are released in the month of October, but with the release of “Gravity” last week and “Captain Phillips” opening today, October 11, that is exactly what the movie going public is getting. It is rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images and for substance use.