A routine voyage of the American cargo ship Maersk Alabama turns into a 5-day test of courage and character when Somali pirates hijack the unarmed vessel and take hostage its captain, Richard Phillips. The film is based on true events that happened in 2009 and are recounted in Phillips’ book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea.
Knowing the event in this film really happened, and that Director Paul Greengrass tried to be faithful to most of the details of the story make Captain Phillips very suspenseful and one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Tom Hanks is perfect as Captain Phillips, just a regular guy who loves his wife and kids and in extraordinary circumstances shows unusual courage trying to protect his crew and the ship of his employer.
The men who play the pirates are spot-on, and the tension they experience and create is palpable as two of them fight over leadership of the small group while trying to deal with a situation rapidly escalating out of control.
Captain Phillips is well worth the money, and with relatively little objectionable language and no sexuality, could be a great activity for families with teens.
Violence: Multiple scenes of shooting, hand-to-hand fighting and peril. The pirates shoot at the cargo ship as they approach and then board the vessel; a pirate punches another in the face as they struggle for control; the pirates shoot into the air to get control of the ship’s officers; 3 men are fatally shot and there is a close-up of the blank, staring eyes of one of the dead men; the pirates hit Capt. Phillip’s with the butt of a gun and their fists; a pirate starts to strangle Capt. Phillips; Capt. Phillips is bound and blindfolded; ship’s officers are held at gunpoint.
Drugs: One of the pirates periodically chews khat, a stimulant.
Notes: Subtitles are used when the pirates talk amongst themselves. This may be a problem for viewers at home viewing the film on smaller TV sets.
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Max Martini, Corey Johnson, Michael Chernus, Catherine Keener
Suggested Ages: Teens (with above cautions) and adults.