Captain Phillips is based on the real-life experiences of Richard Phillips the Captain of Maersk Alabama, during his days as the hostage of Somali pirates led by Abduwali Muse.
Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is the captain of vessel Maersk Alabama that’s carrying water and food supplies to Africa. He is a well-respected individual who is devoted to his job. Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) is a reprobate pirate from a very poor region in Somali, a place where drinking pure water is a luxury. In spite of being skinny and looked down upon, his determination finally gets him an opportunity to do something for himself and therefore, be great in the eyes of his bosses. Muse and his team board the ship Maersk Alabama (after a failed first attempt). Things become intense from then on.
The movie began at a slow pace with proper establishment of the characters and incidents. Captain Phillips is played by two-time academy award winner Tom Hanks, so the quality of the performance is guaranteed. He was brilliant beyond words. Hanks’s performance in the last 15 minutes of this film is more than enough to give an Academy award, too bad that he wasn’t nominated. Tom Hanks’s Oscar snub was the biggest surprise of that year. Barkhad Abdi delivered a controlled performance. He looked creepy, serious and steadfast. There was something scary about him in his eyes. He looked merciless and is determined as far as he could get want he wants. Abdi received a well-deserved academy award nomination. Faysal Ahmed is another person who shined with his nerve-racking persona. He plays the pirate who knows what is going on, which is the scary aspect of his intentions. He enhanced his presence in the last bit and stood along with Tom Hanks. Faysal Ahmed’s performance was slightly better than Barkhad Abdi’s by the second half even though the latter had better character depth and onscreen presence.
Watching this film was like experiencing the real scenario of what truly goes on in those waters. Whether it is their daily routines as a crew, or in Captain Phillips struggles as the hostage. Initially, the plot looked predictable as many are aware of what truly happened to Capt Richard Phillips and the one point everyone remembers about this scenario is the happy ending. The thriller phase begins the minute pirates enter the ship’s bridge. Captain Phillips was shown as a brave hero who risked his life to save his crew. Then we are focused on what will happen to him as his days with men holding guns in a small boat goes on. The pacing was slow initially and it might be boring, the quality also escalated as the film went on with tension-packed situations as the Navy arrived eventually. As the movie reached its peak point (the climax) I couldn’t help but give full marks. Cinematography was well executed by capturing all the necessary elements in order to maintain the audience’s attention. They have done a good job when it comes to shooting in confined locations and in speedboat scenes. The direction, cinematography, editing, acting, pacing and the music were exceedingly first class, that’s the movie’s success and Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks deserve the maximum credit. Also to Mr Greengrass’s credit, many real-life Corpsmen and sailors were used during the making of this film (notably Chief O Brien scene). You may not find it that effective if you knew Captain Phillips’s story and if you are familiar with themes like this. The apt result comes when you pick it up randomly without any prior knowledge and watch it. And, it is worth your while.