“Argh! Ahoy there me hearties!” – Captain Feathersword, The Wiggles. Not to be confused with Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, an Academy Awards Best Picture nominee.
Captain Phillips takes us back to 2009 and the Somali pirate hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, a United States cargo ship off the coast of Africa. My three word review: Exciting. Thoughtful. Well-played. (Does a hyphenated word count as one word?)
In my view, Captain Phillips had a few things going for it before the movie even began. First, it’s available to rent On Demand, which meant I could enjoy the film from the comfort of my couch. Second, I already knew the story because I’d watched a documentary on the Navy SEALs’ involvement in the Somali hijacking with my son, a SEALs enthusiast. Third, TOM HANKS.
Tom Hanks is one of my favorites. A glance through his IMDb credits shows a whirlwind of awesome roles and movies. Forrest Gump sits securely on my personal Top Ten Movies of All Time list, and he’s WOODY from the Toy Story franchise. (Which, since I need to include my irrelevantly relevant factoid, started in 1995. Yes, Toy Story is almost twenty years old!). Woody’s been a big draw in my house for the past ten years. “Reach for the Stars!”
I have to go off on another slight tangent– can we talk Bosom Buddies for a second? Hanks played Kip/Buffy Wilson, a man who dressed as a woman in order to secure housing in a female-only residence hall. I have to, HAVE TO include a pic here. Feast your eyes:
Genius. You know what? I’m going to stop right there because Bosom Buddies was amazing and deserves its own post.
Back to Captain Phillips. This is a bit of a spoiler for those of you unfamiliar with the incident. It doesn’t matter if you know what happens though, because the movie is so good you’ll feel the intensity regardless.
Somali actor Barkhad Abdi plays Muse, the leader of the four pirates who captured the Maersk. His character uttered that now famous line, “I’m the Captain now,” to Captain Phillips, letting the viewer know that the shit just officially hit the fan. He’s been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and yeah, he could get it. He was that good. Check out this pic:
Captain Phillips tries to keep his cool the best he can, and is able to hide his crew and give them little tips via intercom and radio to keep them safe. He manages to get himself off the ship with the four pirates, into a small lifeboat, which the pirates attempt to navigate towards the coastline. Obstacles ensue, including the American military. Eventually, the military tricks Muse off the lifeboat (he’s now in federal prison), and Navy SEAL snipers take out the other three pirates, in a perfectly timed, perfectly executed operation.
I vaguely remember this event from the news back in 2009, but seeing the movie made me aware of so much more. What struck me most is the desperation of the Somalis who take on these hijackings. The film showed a Somali village and the villagers fighting to be chosen to carry out the crimes. It made me think that these aren’t all bad guys, but desperate guys who do really bad things. I felt sort of relieved that Muse is in prison, not dead by a sniper’s bullet. I wonder if he feels the same.
Also, I couldn’t believe that four Somalis in a small boat could take over a giant American cargo ship. Seeing the physical size of the Maersk compared to the little boats that sped towards it was mind-blowing. Captain Phillips knew that once the pirates hooked their ladder onto the side, they’d get control of the ship. Is it really that easy? Hopefully new measures are in place to ward off these attacks.
Finally, I admired Captain Phillips for keeping his crew safe and sacrificing himself to get the pirates off the ship. Hanks does an awesome job portraying Captain Phillips not as a consummate hero making all the right calls with confidence, conceit, and a puffed out chest, but rather as a real person: a dude with a wife and kids who’s working a job he seems to enjoy, a by-the-book kind of guy with a healthy fear of death, thrown into this horrible situation. Hanks portrays this regular-guy, imperfect hero most amazingly in the last scenes of the movie, when Captain Phillips is saved and totally freaked out during a medical examination.
Captain Phillips is a great movie if you are in the mood for action, intensity, and Tom Hanks. It’s well-worth the $4.95 rental On Demand.
Only a few weeks to go until the Oscars! I need to step up my game. Thanks for reading and have a nice weekend!
[Photo: http://img2-3.timeinc.net/ew/i/2013/10/09/Captain-Phillips.jpg (Captain Phillips); http://img2-3.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/071218/hanks/buddies_l.jpg (Bosom Buddies); http://www.tasteofcinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/barkhad-abdi-captain-phillips.jpg (Abdi)]