Captain Phillips

Released in 2013 Captain Phillips is based on the true story of the of 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, an incident during which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse. The movie is directed by Paul Greengrass and stars Tom Hanks as the captain and Barkhad Abdi as Muse. The screenplay was written by Billy Ray, and is based on the 2010 book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty. Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca served as producers on the project.

The story is about Captain Phillips who bids goodbye to his wife in the US and flies to Oman to take command of the Maersk Alabama, a container ship that’s heading from Oman to Mombasa through the Gulf Of Aden – a region known for pirate activity. Phillips orders a series of drills but his worst fears come true when he spots Somali pirates headed towards his ship in two skiffs. One of the skiffs turns back when they hear Phillips fake a call and recieves confirmation for a quick air support but the other one continues to chase them. They have engine trouble but catch up with the ship the next day  four heavily armed pirates led by Abduwali Muse; they are carrying a ladder they had hastily welded the night before. Phillips men are mostly hiding in the engine room on his orders but the bridge is captured and the ship’s power is shut off. Phillips offers Muse the contents of the ship’s safe ($30,000), but, under orders from his boss (the local Somali faction leader), Muse’s plan is to ransom the ship and crew in exchange for millions of dollars of insurance money from the shipping company. Muse takes Phillips with him & one of the others, whose feet are cut badly by broken glass scattered by the crew. Muse is then overpowered by the crew but Phillips is already taken back to the bridge by the injured pirate.

the crewmen arrange to trade Phillips for Muse and the ship’s lifeboat. The pirates force Phillips onto the lifeboat and launch it, intending to hold the captain for ransom. The rest of money is mostly focused on the 4 pirates and Phillips in the lifeboat as they speed away but are later intercepted by the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge and with their supplies almost all used up. Once additional U.S. Navy ships arrive, Phillips attempts to negotiate with Muse, who asserts that he has come too far and will not surrender. In the meantime, the Bainbridge’s captain  Frank Castellano (Yul Vazquez) is ordered to prevent the pirates from reaching the mainland by whatever means necessary. At night Phillips attempts an escape but is brought back to the lifeboat as the pirates shoot at him. Castellano and the SEALs continue to try to negotiate with the pirates, eventually taking the lifeboat under tow. Eventually, Muse agrees to board the Bainbridge, led into believing that he will join his clan elders in negotiating Phillips’s ransom. In the lifeboat, Najee, who always seems to be agitated and second-guessing Muse, beats up Phillips when he sees the captain writing a hasty goodbye note to his family.

Najee angrily blindfolds and ties up Phillips but the three SEAL marksmen finally get three clear shots and simultaneously kill the pirates. A sobbing Phillips is rescued from the lifeboat as Muse is arrested for piracy and taken into custody. He is read his rights and told that he will be taken for trial in the US. A shocked and disoriented Phillips is treated by the Navy’s medical staff. As the movie ends we are told the fate of the two men – Phillips was reunited with his family and only returned to sea 14 months after the events. Muse was tried and pleaded guilty o hijacking, kidnapping and hostage-taking charges and was sentenced to over 33 years in prison. Both Hanks & Abdi did great jobs in the acting front; it’s hard to not feel compassion and perhaps even tear up as Phillips is rescued and his composure breaks down and it is equally hard to not feel contempt & dislike for the ugly faced pirate that is Muse. The attempt to make him appear sympathetic is there – at one point Phillips tells him that being a fisherman and a pirate is not the only thing for a man to be and Muse says ‘maybe in America’, meaning that being a pirate is something he is forced to do. The film manages to do what it sets out to do, tell a harrowing story of a man being kidnapped and held hostage in a hostile environment and close quarters and being rescued.

I give the movie a solid 8.5 outta 10!

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