Captain Phillips is based on a true story that was even more brutal than the film depicts. All I know is, I was on the edge of my seat and holding my breath at the end. Even knowing the outcome, I was truly vested in these people and feared for lives. As Rich Phillips, Tom Hanks, is an appealing all-American hero - quiet, stalwart, dedicated, and practical - a competent Yankee seafarer. He reassures his wife as he leaves - yes the world has changed and sailing around the Cape Horn of Africa is dangerous. However, that's his job and he's going to achieve the goal of getting the Maersk Alabama from Point A to Point B, even though he sails past the coast of Somalia.
Meanwhile, Somali desperado/fishermen are told they need to get back out on the water and earn some money. The lead Somali - Barkhad Abdi -(nicknamed Skinny) is not a trained actor, but his fierce charisma holds the screen. Sure enough, they are tech savvy and their gear plots the course of the Alabama. They approach quickly, circumvent the water hose blasts, and manage to get aboard. Captain Phillips had feared for this very incident. He had his crew doing practice drills, and then had to announce, "This is real world. Hide in the engine room." It became an outwit, outplay, outlive the terrorists real-life game.
Ultimately, the Somalis take Phillips as hostage in the small life boat. As they pilot it toward their port, a bigger brinksmanship occurs. US Naval power and Navy Seal expertise work to defuse the situation. Skinny seeks dominance over the situation. He truly believes he will get ransom money, survive, and his goal is to go live in America. Captain Phillips has faith in the Navy, and he quietly tries to create tension amongst the pirates. This earns him some beatings. The movie does not go overly political and yet there are some lines showing the level of desperation involved in Somali life for these young men.
Director Paul Greengrass excels at directing the actors and action. He ratchets tension - we feel the lack of air in the lifeboat, the thirst building, fear, and lack of control. Captain Phillips is a great modern seafaring adventure that demonstrates America's reach and power. It's also about men and a will to win and live. Climb aboard, mate, and prepare for an ocean of entertainment.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.