I can sum up Director Paul Greengrass’ film “Captain Phillips” in one word: Intense. This “based on a true” incident movie will have all white knuckled travelers right at home, digging their hand imprints into the side of the local theater’s armrest.
Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) is your average run-of-the-mill New England merchant mariner whose mission is to get a large container vessel loaded with food around the Cape of Africa. The area they travel is a highly dangerous route that is terrorized by the ubiquitous presence of pirates; but despite knowing the dangers, the captain must deliver his goods without his crew being armed because of international maritime rules. This allows a group of four skeletal Somali pirates on a skiff, armed with assault weapons, to board and overtake a ship that is as big as a football field, and which the crew tries to defend, with fire hoses.
The Somalis are on a mission themselves. They have been sent by their tribe’s elders (their bosses) to get to work and to not come back without a healthy dose of booty. When Captain Phillips advises them that they only have $30,000 dollars on board, the Somali leader of the group laughs it off and indicates that he will take no less than $10 million for his ransom. This little disparity in money creates a big problem and now the captain and his crew are held hostage.
The remainder of the movie is an intense give and take between Captain Phillips, the Somalis, and the Navy. I have always felt that the sign of a great actor is when you forget as a viewer who that actor is during the movie and I became so engrossed in this the film that I forgot that I was watching Tom Hanks, but instead, watching Captain Phillips. The rest of the cast are relatively unknowns, but that doesn’t really matter here ─ everyone does their job.
My only question about this whole caper is how do you go into pirate infested waters without being able to protect yourself? All the ship would have needed to fend off these rag-tag pirates was one sniper on board. I don’t know if maritime law has changed since this incident, but if it hasn’t, someone needs their head examined. Great movie; bad laws. (Rated PG-13; 134 minutes).
My Rating: 4 of 5 Delusional Pirates.