Captain Phillips: A Review

Mike Nunziante, Staff Writer

In 2009 a group of four Somalian pirates hijacked an American cargo ship in the Indian Ocean 120 miles off the coast of East Africa. The pirates commandeered the American vessel, demanded millions of dollars in ransom, and took ship captain Richard Phillips hostage aboard a lifeboat heading back to Somalia. After a five-day standoff between the Navy and the Somalian pirates, Navy SEALs placed three simultaneous sniper shots into the heads of each pirate after coaxing the fourth into coming aboard their Navy ship to negotiate a ransom deal. The captain was rescued minutes after.

Sound like the potential for a suspense-filled docu-drama?

Indeed it was. Director Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, was an unbelievable depiction of a noteworthy conflict in United States history. Held together by quality performances by its lead actors, nail-biting interactions between characters, and remarkable realism, I have no doubts that this film will be a contender for a number of Academy Awards in March of 2014.

What really pulled this film together so effectively was the acting. I applaud the producers, who could not have found two better talents to play the leading roles. Hollywood powerhouse Tom Hanks and up-and-coming Somalian actor Barkhad Abdi displayed recognizable chemistry throughout the course of the movie, even though they had only spoken for the first time the day they started filming.

One would never expect that this was Abdi’s first movie performance based on the perfection of his role as Somali pirate in this film. The unbelievably tense relationship between he and Hanks as captor and captive disturbingly resembled exactly how one would have expected it to be during the real raid in 2009.

I was astonished at the realism of the production as well. Personally, I am a big fan of dramatic movies and suspense films. I am very critical of this particular category of movies, and am hard-pressed to give a significant amount of praise to a particular suspenseful film unless it really was absolutely incredible.

I was drawn in immediately. There was not a moment in the film where I was not stressed regarding the safety of Tom Hanks. Even though the production was based on real events of which I already knew the outcome, it was as if I was learning about the Somali pirate raid in 2009 for the first time. The immense relief I felt after Tom Hanks was rescued was indescribable. I was even perspiring through certain scenes.

Overall, one would find themselves having a difficult time finding a more suspenseful movie than this. I congratulate the director, actors, and writers for putting together an incredible film, and I would expect to see Captain Phillips nominated for several Academy Awards very soon.