Captain Phillips

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captain_phillipsRated PG-13                            4  stars of 5

“Captain Phillips” opened today, and I don’t think I will ever set foot on a cargo ship in Somali waters again.

The true story of Captain Phillips, played by real life movie star Tom Hanks (Larry Crowne), made the move from CNN to silver screen. When Captain Rich Phillips set out to cross the horn of Africa, the forecast was partly cloudy, 8-mph winds and a chance of piracy. These cargo guys know there is a risk, but they never think it will happen to them. It’s a good thing their company has a policy for such things, and the plan is “go dead in the water” just like a sitting duck. Plus, nobody will get hurt because they do not allow guns on board.

When the pirates approach, the home office tells him to do his best Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy) – “I’m boating here – hey, I’m boating here.” Unfortunately the last Hoffman movie they saw was “The Graduate.” The pirates are led my Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who serves to put a face on the whole Somalia war lord business operation and the pirate pastime. We see what his home life is like and how he gets selected for this job much the same way we pick teams for volleyball.

Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) does what he can to humanize the criminals and portray the whole exercise like the old SNL bit where muggers line up beside the ATM to politely rob people. This is just how it’s done in that part of the world. Until Captain Phillips and his able crew come along.

Hanks is at his best at sea (Joe Versus the Volcano and Cast Away) and spends most of his time not trying to be a hero. His job is to protect the ship and crew and make it home to his family. The pirates’ job is to get millions of dollars for the Elders and sleep on dirt floors while their families starve to death. Paul Greengrass’ job is to make a drama on the water as gripping as last week’s drama in space (Gravity). Well, two out of three guys did their job.

I give this movie 4 stars out of 5, and I say it’s the best Captain movie since “Captain Ron.”

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:


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