“Captain Phillips” purports to tell the tale of a 2009 oil ship that was boarded by Somali pirates. The New York Post and other news outlets have published articles decrying the story of the film as a lie remade for Hollywood that disregards the truth of the crew’s actions. The movie itself stands on its own legs as a thrilling piece of cinema entertainment, and it claims only to be based on the true tale of the Somali hijacking.

The Story

The film focuses entirely on the life and actions of Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks). The movie recounts his life as an ordinary man who takes to sea and leads a cargo vessel off dangerous Somali waters. The captain is a humble and patriotic man who wants only to make money and return to his family. He switches quickly from family man to high-seas captain as he boards his vessel and prepares to head out to sea.

The crew of Somali pirates is made up of Muse (Barkhad Abdi), Bilal (Barkhad Abdirahman), Najee (Faysal Ahmed), and Elmi (Mahat M. Ali). They appear fearful of their chiefs and are willing to do anything to secure cargo vessels. The pirates encounter Phillips and his crew as the captain begins an anti-pirate drill, bringing them to clash with U.S. military forces and take the captain as their prisoner https://tragedyinfo.com/heather-fibkins-obituary-death-heather-fibkins-cause-of-death/.

The Acting

Hanks delivers a believable performance as Captain Phillips, though the role seems eerily similar to many of the military men he has played in the past. Catherine Keener is likewise believable, if not entirely sympathetic, as Andrea Phillips. The true acting credit for the film belongs to those who play the Somali pirates. Abdi, Abdirahman, Ahmed, and Ali truly steal every scene in which they appear. Their characters are clearly vilified as demons and devils, and they act the part without becoming caricatures.

Many of the supporting cast members in the film deliver excellent performances that borrow some of the spotlight from the main characters. Michael Chernus as Shane Murphy and Max Martini as the Navy SEAL commander bring life to parts of the film that would otherwise feel sluggish through their intense and stunning performances.

The Presentation

The movie is likely to be off-putting for many familiar with African culture or the high seas. The portrayal of the Somalis as truly vicious and horribly evil, especially compared to the flawless captain and noble American troops, may be unsettling for some viewers. This choice by the screenwriter and director seems to stem more from a patriotic stance regarding the actions of the military personnel instead of any desire to adhere to the true story.

The cinematography is excellent. The camera angles and transitions are exactly what moviegoers are likely to expect from a film set on the high seas and based on a captain who finds himself hostage in a lifeboat. When the film takes a darker turn, the camera becomes a tool for peering into a claustrophobic situation in which a single gunshot could result in a standoff that could end the lives of hostages and pirates alike. The level of tension and suspense delivered by smart camera choices and lighting during these moments is likely to elevate the film far beyond normal documentary-style fare, making it more akin to a fictional action film.

The Truth

Following the events of the 2009 Somali attack, the crew of Captain Phillips’ ship filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit because of his disregard for their safety during the incident. Articles in the New York Post and other periodicals deride the plot of the movie as pure fiction, alleging that the captain did nothing to merit such acclaim and that he is nothing like the man portrayed the film. The movie is likely to get people talking about the status of cargo ships in unfriendly waters and the role of U.S. military forces overseas.

Whether or not the film portrays the incident off the Somali coast accurately, it is still an entertaining biographical piece with elements of action and suspense. For those who prefer a good tale of wholesome captains fighting off obviously evil threats and overcoming all odds, like those in “Star Wars” or early WWII movies, the truth of the matter may be less important than the overall enjoyment delivered by a talented cast and excellent direction. Whether the tale is pure fiction or simply loosely based on a true tale, it is still an enjoyable story worthy of a movie night at home or a night out with friends.

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