Captain Phillips (2013) is based upon the book A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, which entails the story of merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean during the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009 led by Abduwali Muse.
It's one of those films that goes beyond the mere storyline... If you remember watching it on the news or even if you just followed the marketing campaigns around this long-feature, you pretty much know the final outcome. The "good guy" (read my side note below the trailer) lives to tell the story (and write about it as well). And even knowing what will happen ahead, you can't avoid but be consumed by the anxiety... you are always waiting for the moment where the Captain will finally be safe. I love that! I love how the direction, scripting and acting can lead someone into experiencing a nerve wrecking situation, despite knowing how it all ends. And you can watch it as many times as you want, but the build up will always take the best out of you. That's pure magic!
This film is another successful venture by director Paul Greengrass, known to bigger audiences for his involvement with The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). His name alone is becoming more synonymous with quality, but if that won't take you to the cinema, then add to the mix two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks.
Despite being somehow away from those vintage performances that have granted him five nominations, you know exactly what he can bring to the table. And believe you me, he has delivered an outstanding performance that will surely be acknowledged by the Academy next year.
But there's more...
But there's more...
Opposite Tom Hanks, we have Barkhad Abdi who makes his début in the big screen with a terrific performance, which has been applauded by the audience and critics, however, I actually don't think it's enough to earn an Oscar nomination... but that's just my opinion. Nonetheless, the Somali-American actor deserves a lot of credit, specially considering his lack of experience in the art of acting.
Within the 2 hours and 14 minutes that make this movie, there are times where you will become impatient, thinking: "Just get on with it!"... but after watching it until the end, I came to realize the build up was necessary for the final scenes to have a bigger impact. The last 20 minutes or so will put you on the edge of your seat, culminating with a mesmerizing Hanks master-class that on it's own would make the movie worth it.
* In this case, good guy is kind of a loose term. Since the film was released, a lot of the original crew members came out to the media saying that Richard Philips was the one to blame for the events that happened in 2009. It is said that he ignored several warnings not to take his ship around those waters due to high risks of being hijacked by Pirates. Adding to that, they've called him reckless, "a loose canon" filled with arrogance and contempt for the men he was supposed to lead. Nonetheless, that's an extra bit of information that I leave you to do... There's a couple of nice articles and a piece by CNN which includes interviews with not only members of the crew, but the Captain himself.