I never knew a chase at 5 knots could be so exciting


Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips
Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse
Faysal Ahmed as Najee
Michael Chernus as First Officer Shane Murphy
David Warshofsky as Chief Engineer Mike Perry
with many other cast members too numerous to list

I have to say that I really enjoyed watching Captain Philips. It’s well shot, superbly acted, the script tight, tense and doesn’t waste much time getting to the meat of the issue. It also deals with the underlying issues of poverty and the lengths people will go to if they’re desperate. Based on the true hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009 and the rescue of Captain Richard Philips on the high seas, it is, despite the slow pace of the events (and speed of ships in general) it is quite a thrilling ride.

Many will no doubt be familiar with the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009, since it made international headlines. I’m pretty sure you know how it all turned out. But over and above the story of survival and rescue of the crew of the Maersk Alabama, the story also asks the audience whether they think the pirates are inherently evil. It’s a pretty grey area, especially since Somalia has been embroiled in a civil war since 1991 and with the very desperate situation a lot of people face, it really comes as no surprise that piracy occurs.

We get quite an interesting contrast between Richard and his wife talking about their hopes for their children and their son also wanting to become a master of his own vessel when he finishes his studies. Philips said his son would have to fight hard for work that he desired, where the Somalis have to fight purely for their survival. It is an interesting in trying to humanise the pirates in this case. Musi, the main antagonist, played by Barkhad Abdi is portrayed as fiercely brave, intelligent and practical despite his gaunt and haggard appearance. During the hijacking he was only eighteen years old and his crew ranged from sixteen to nineteen. This is acknowledged in the film when Philips is trying to convince the youngest and most sympathetic in the band to get out while he still can.

You feel very sorry for the pirates as the movie moves on, understanding their motivations and knowing that for them, life is risky whether you stay on land or go to sea seeking a bounty on hostages and cargo ships. You also feel for Captain Philips as he inevitably only wants to do his job and go home to his family. Thankfully, there are no moments of shoving righteous justice in your face, no angry outbursts in the movie’s storytelling about how evil pirates are. Apart from justifiably shooting the three pirates dead, the survivor, Musi was treated respectfully and faced due process. The great irony is that life in an American prison is definitely more comfortable than being free in Somalia and that’s the saddest part of the entire sorry saga.


It’s a good movie, though slightly overhyped.

Should I watch this?

See through the hype and watch the movie and think about just how lucky people who live in the First World have it compared to people who don’t.


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