‘Captain Phillips’ quite a catch

by Jamie Ballard

Based on a true story, “Captain Phillips” is a riveting thriller of a film that leaves the audience anxious, awed and relieved by the time the final credits scroll by.

The movie portrays the 2009 real-life hijacking of the Maersk Alabama and subsequent kidnapping of Capt. Richard Phillips. The ship was attacked by a small group of Somali pirates, portrayed by Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat Ali.

One of the notable aspects of the tale is the commentary on globalization and increasing disparity between the first and third worlds. While he’s being held hostage aboard a tiny lifeboat, Phillips (Tom Hanks) tries to reason with Samalia’s crew captain, Muse (Abdi). He attempts to convince him there are ways to succeed without criminal activity, only to have Muse stare back at him coldly and reply, “Maybe in America.”

The comparison between the two captains—Phillips and Muse—is fascinating. The power shifts back and forth between them, as both men grow increasingly desperate.

Abdi does a fantastic job as Muse, a power-starved, oppressed man willing to take the biggest risk of his life just to become rich. Although he manages to remain confident for the first act, he becomes more and more frantic looking as the U.S. Navy closes in on the tiny vessel.

Hanks does a great job playing the “everyman” role that he’s accustomed to. He blends into the role as seamlessly as possible, which is common among actors of his magnitude; viewers never completely forget they’re watching Hanks playing a role. Still, it’s a sturdy performance, not to mention one that’s already generating an Oscar buzz.

The cinematography is creative without being a diversion and it plays off the score exceedingly well. The fine balance between the two allows the audience to be completely engaged without being overwhelmed or otherwise distracted.

“Captain Phillips” is a movie that keeps the viewer anxious in the best possible way, building in intensity until the end. Even those who know the conclusion already (it is based on a true story, after all) still feel worried about Phillips’ fate. Overall, it’s a fantastic achievement and well worth the time and money.

Information about “Captain Phillips” can be found at captainphillipsmovie.com/site/#splash

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Image courtesy of Hopper Stone/Courtesy of SMPSP/MCT