Captain Phillips: Tom Hanks beats all his previous performances!

Although the actual crew members of the Maersk Alabama think the movie is more fiction, I thought it was great!

Muhammad Omar Iftikhar November 24, 2013
Based on a true story, Captain Phillips will surely bring you to the edge of your seats within the first few minutes because Tom Hanks, as always, brings credibility to his role. This time, playing the character of Captain Phillips, Hanks gives a splendid performance.

A still from the movie Captain Phillips. Photo: Captain Phillips Official Facebook Page

The build-up leading to the pirates taking over Captain Phillips’ cargo ship ‘Maersk Alabama’, is another moment that brings a realistic appeal that holds the viewers’ attention. Debutant Somali actors Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, and Barkhad Abdirahman have played the role of Somali pirates pretty well. When combined with Hanks’ theatrical skills, it adds just the right amount of thrill require to make hostage movies famous.

Supporting cast includes Max Martini, Catherine Keener, Michael Chernus, David Warshofsky, Corey Johnson, and Yul Vasquez. Regardless of the cast, Hanks gets the maximum camera time, which is justified by the plot because it focuses on Captain Phillips’ survival.

Photo: Captain Phillips Official Facebook Page

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Paul Greengrass, famous for directing Bloody Sunday (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and Green Zone (2010), does a great job directing Captain Phillips, where the smooth transitions between the scenes evidence his skill and drive to keep the momentum going.

Greengrass did omit a few details and focused on the most important parts of the real incident. However, the actual crewmembers onboard the Maersk Alabama think otherwise and have claimed that the movie is more fiction than fact.

Photo: Captain Phillips Official Facebook Page

The movie begins with Captain Phillips arriving in Oman to lead his ship to Mombasa, Kenya. Although they knew that Somali pirates do hunt for ships in that part of the ocean, Captain Phillips decides to go ahead with the plan instead of taking an alternate route which was both costly and time consuming. After spotting the hijackers, Captain Phillips sends a message to the authorities but the Somali hijackers, determined to get large sums of cash, managed to get onboard and take the ship hostage.

Captain Phillips then, refuses to let the pirates capture his crewmembers and after a scuffle in the engine room, Phillips’ crew captures the pirate leader, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). All four pirates manage to flee in the lifeboat with Captain Phillips as hostage. The US Navy SEAL team, after being informed of the incident, commence their negotiations until Captain Phillips is safely rescued.

Photo: Captain Phillips Official Facebook Page

Greengrass manages to add comic relief in the movie considering the intensity of the plot. One such moment is when Muse and his three partners are in the ship’s control deck subduing Captain Phillips and Muse is heard repeatedly saying,
“Relax, Captain, relax. No Al Qaeda, no Al Qaeda. Business, just business.”

The epitome of his acting career was perhaps during the last 10 minutes of the movie, when he is taken on board for medical checkups, during which Hanks portrayed a man in shock, trying to realise that he is free and out of danger while his mind is still trying to cope with the events that unfolded with the pirates.

Photo: Captain Phillips Official Facebook Page

While his performance in Cast Away and Forrest Gump were impressive, his portrayal of Captain Philips, is classic. Hanks’ character combines the determination of a sea captain trying to save his ship and his crew while showing proficiency following protocols down to the last detail, adding value to his character.

Captain Phillips is a movie that you can watch repeatedly because the plot focuses on the events rather than the characters. Although the name of the film suggests the movie is about one Captain Phillips, the action, suspense and determination of both the warrior and the adversary to survive and come out alive of the predicament, make it a great watch.

Muhammad Omar Iftikhar The author is a freelance writer and blogger and writes for various English dailies of Pakistan. He tweets @omariftikhar (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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shah | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Watched this film last week. Very well made and entertaining. I highly recommend it.
MA | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Though its always a treat to watch Tom Hanks and I always make sure to watch anything he does.. But Captain Philips is just another hyped-up Hollywood flick. Even Tom Hanks himself admitted in one of his promotional interview. I think if Mr Iftikhar had put a bit more effort he would have come across the fact that not only the crew members disagree to much of the script but also have sued Mr. Philips for selling story based on lies. The fact that after the ordeal was over crew members declined to participate in any media activity and refused to sell their story. Mr Philips saw the opportunity, took the lead and sold his version, which was then glossed up with typical Hollywood dramatic moments. Allegedly more versions of this incident have been made. One I know and like is a Danish version called A Hijacking, which has been able to come as close as possible to the original version of the story. Worth checking out!. PS: If you are more into Hollywood flicks, then you might not get amused with A Hijacking. European movies are less on dialogues and high on emotions and sentiments. Without the help of background music score, they mostly let the acting leave its impact.
Parvez | 6 years ago .....and that is why the movie is called Captain Phillips.
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