Imagine being stranded on a ship in the middle of the ocean and forced to give away all of your money to complete strangers in order to save your own life. Based on the true story of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009, Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass, tells the story of a courageous crew that was attacked by Somali pirates. More importantly, it tells the story of the kidnapping and survival of Richard Phillips. The Maersk Alabama cargo ship was sailing on the Indian Ocean and was bound for Kenya. At the same time, Somali pirates were planning their attack on the ship to capture millions of dollars.
Tom Hanks plays the character of Richard Phillips. He portrays Phillips as a man who means business, but as soon as he finds out there is a possibility that the ship might be attacked, he slowly begins to unravel and show his vulnerability. As the captain, he is responsible for the lives of every man on the ship, but Phillips was not quite prepared for the danger they would be faced with when they were attacked by armed pirates.
Barkhad Abdi takes on the role of Muse, the leader of the Somali pirates. Muse is looked down upon by most of the Somalis because of his appearance: small and skinny. His nickname among them is “skinny rat”. He takes this to heart, for he is the leader of the attackers and he refuses to be looked at as someone who is a coward. This creates tension between him and the other three attackers which becomes apparent from the moment they step onto the ship. When Muse and Phillips come face-to-face for the first time, it is very clear that Muse strives for the leadership role. Once the Somalis gain control over the Americans, Muse proclaims, “Look at me, I am the captain now.”
The relationship built between Phillips and Muse throughout the movie is powerful to say the least. Phillips loses all control to Muse and is forced to take all orders from him, which includes giving away their $30,000 that is locked away in the safe. The crew hopes it is enough to keep them away but that is not all they want: the pirates demand to take Phillips. Willingly risking his life to save other people on the ship, Phillips agrees to leave with the pirates. The last hour of the movie will take most viewers on an emotional journey. Hanks and Abdi build a strong sense of empathy towards the other character. This movie is recommended for audience members who enjoy plenty of suspenseful moments, as many will be left holding their breath and on the edge of their seats.
By: Natessa Storm