Captain Richard Phillips was at the helm of the US-flagged Maersk Alabama when it was attacked by pirates off the Horn of Africa in 2009. After a failed bid to take the entire crew hostage, the pirates seized Phillips instead holding him in a lifeboat for several days until US Navy SEALS came to the rescue.
Such is the story and film about Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks as the real Captain Phillips. The film is a very accurate depiction of what he and his crew went thru in 2009. You can really see and feel the intensity in Hanks face as he portrays Captain Phillips in captivity of the pirates off the Somali coast. The real Captain Phillips says Hanks did a good job portraying what happened, but the real life situation was a lot worse because they can’t portray everything that went on. Tom Hanks plays Captain Phillips as the no non-sense all business captain of the Maersk Alabama with a cargo of medical and food supplies being delivered to Mombasa, Africa.
The crew is very adament about going so close to the Somali coast because of all the reports of pirates along there. Captain Phillips is very stern and strict about anyone who wants to leave they will drop them off at the next port so they continue on.
I thought the picture did a good job in not going overboard making the pirates too sympathetic but did show that they are controlled by tribal war lords in their country who force them to rob ships for huge sums of money.
Captain Phillips and his crew try to ward off the pirates with hoses surrounding the ship but to no avail. The pirates board the ship while the crew hides below deck trying to outwit them while they take Phillips hostage.
The only character I felt sorry for was a conflicted 16 year old who Phillips tries to reason with. The others are real maniacs due to an herb they take called”Khat” which when taken induces feelings of heightened euphoria and mania and there is internal conflicting going on between them. They manage to get $30,000 from the ship, but say that isn’t enough and want millions. They are very aggressive and feel they are on a mission too and can’t turn back once it’s started.
Later on when Phillip s is being held hostage in the enclosed lifeboat he tells the head pirate, “You have $30,000 you could be going back to Somalia, but now you have the whole U.S. Navy out there.”
To which the pirate replies, “We have bosses. They have rules.”
“Well I have bosses too,” Phillips replies.
The movie is very intense and holds your attention from start to finish and Captain Philips went back to sea again in 2010. The lead pirate is now serving 33 years in an American prison for piracy.
The actor portraying the lead pirate was picked from 700 other actors living in a Somali neighborhood in Minnesota. In an interview he said he grew up in Somalia and has seen the war and devastation by the warlords in their country. When he was picked he said he “Couldn’t wait to play opposite that Forrest Gump guy.”
Philips says he is no hero and just did what he had to do to survive. His real life crew tells a different story and are suing him for 50 million dollars for going to close to the Somali coast and endangering their lives. They claim he is self serving and arrogant and they didn’t like sailing with him. His wife says she never goes on any of the ships with him because as soon as he steps on the ships he is all business. He’s portrayed that way in the movie too. I’m including two links below so you can judge for yourself. Also check out the two cool trailers for the film.