Considering that everyone knows the outcome, Captain Phillips generates a tremendous amount of tension and excitement. It’s based on the real 2009 attack on an American freighter off Somalia by modern day pirates.
Four armed and dangerous Somalis manage to board the giant ship, despite the best efforts of ship captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) to keep them off. In a series of intense encounters, trying to protect his crew and save the ship, he manages to get the pirates into a lifeboat, but they take him hostage, while leaving the ship. Then it is up to the overwhelming military might of the American Navy, complete with a sharpshooting team of SEALS, to rescue Hanks.
That final third of the movie is dragged out too long, but this is still solid entertainment. Hanks puts in his usual solid performance and the actors portraying the pirates are very convincing, despite this being their first acting experience. And while the Somalis are the bad guys, director Paul Greengrass (United 93) and writer Billy Ray also show that they don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to what they are doing.
There’s a lot of controversy about how faithful the movie is to the actual facts of the event. In fact, there’s controversy about the actual facts of the event, as some crew members dispute Phillips’ account. But remember folks, this is a Hollywood movie, not a documentary, and it is a good movie.
Rating: four deer out of five
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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.