Captain Phillips movie review

By Max Maier | Apr 14, 2014

This was a big movie. This is a true story from 2009 about a man who had to endure a very real, and very terrifying experience on the sea, in the first American ship to be captured in many years. This film captures every ounce of tension and fear imaginable in this story, even if it feels a tiny bit Hollywood at times.


The premise is simple, a big ship captain named Richard Phillips is heading out to sea with his crew on the US MV Maersk Alabama. When suddenly, they are overtaken by Somalian pirates. However, the villains are not so cut and paste. We actually see backstory into the lives of these pirates and get a glimpse into why they do it. They are not just doing it for kicks, they are doing it to survive in their community. To get food, supply for loved ones. Nevertheless, a group of Somalian pirates, led by Muse, take the ship from Phillips. The rest of the flick is Phillips trying to survive, yet finding a way to defeat the pirates, get his crew to safety, and make sure no one is hurt. I really can't give away more than that, it would spoil the film's intensity.

This movie does indeed have great suspense and action. While the story is well-written and simple, the tense scenes will leave you on the edge of your seat. Once Muse starts to board the US MV Maersk Alabama, it is go time. There is no let up and you won't feel your nerves truly relax until the final moments of the film. The best scene definitely being when Muse takes the ship. While these aren't CGI'd action fests, they don't need it. The tension and well acted character interactions provide plenty of suspense and entertainment.

Speaking of which, our 2 leading men here deliver fantastic moments. Tom Hanks always delivers fantastic dramatic performances, and this is no different. In fact, this may be one of my favorites of his. He is a nice guy who doesn't want anybody hurt, yet is smart about his surroundings. Barkhad Abdi in my opinion has earned his right for more big supporting roles based on this performance. You can see his internal struggle with what he has to do, yet he is still intimidating. He is a great adversary, because he isn't just evil, he is complex. These 2 performances are the highlights of the film. While the rest of the cast deliver good performances, none really stood out like the 2 I mentioned. Everybody does a good job with their roles, and I did enjoy the performances from Muse's men. Thankfully there just wasn't really any bad performances.

Now I gotta nitpick here. There are a few scenes in the movie of people just panicking. Shouting out options, random comments, stress, freaking out. While that is part of a situation like this, there was enough of it to feel a bit filler-ish, but not bad at all. And yes, this is based on a true story, but it feels a bit Hollywood at parts. You know, where it feels a little glamorized and stuff, but this isn't a nitpick. I mean, they had to make a movie, this doesn't lower the quality at all, just something worth mentioning.

Overall, this was the movie I wanted to win movie of the year at The Academy Awards, but we know it didn't. This is a great suspense film with great performances and some great action scenes. It is definitely worth watching, and now that Oscar season is over, don't forget this great film.

I give Captain Phillips, 4 negotiations out of 5