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4.7 out of 5 stars1,446
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2014
Paul Greengrass brings his trademark shaky camera to this superbly taut thriller. A human story about resiliance, bravery and the strength of character.

A cargo ship embarks on a long journey across some dangerous waters. The crew are well trained in what to do in the event of a pirate attack but remain unprepared for the reality of the situation. Captain Phillips is a normal nice guy who is suddenly plunged into this dark and dangerous world. His apparent over caution gives way to someone who is there to protect his team. The crew stand firmly by him as they realise he is their only hope.

Tom Hanks imbues Phillips with some real humanity. The change he makes from a quiet, respectful leader to all out negotiator and saviour is a delight to watch. This is Hanks at his absolute best, a defining role in an already illustrious career.

His relationship with his captors is what grounds the film in reality. It is also a testament to the writers that they have not demonised the pirates. They are misguided and desperate, not evil. They are inexperienced and violent but not sadistic. This is business.

Greengrass injects energy into every tense scene. Especially the seige of the cargo ship. The camera moves around the ship with ease and brings the audience right into the centre of the action. Tension is cranked right up and not a moment is wasted. Greengrass has a canny ability to catch every flicker of emotion on the actors' faces and every detail within any given scene, giving more weight to the situation at hand.

The film never stops tugging at your emotions. It throws everything at you. Even in its final scenes the audience is left reeling at the emotional plight Phillips has been through.

A masterclass in tension.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) was taking his American cargo ship on a routine voyage off the coast of Africa, when a small band of armed Somali pirates boarded the ship. While most of the crew stayed hidden, the pirates took Captain Phillips hostage in a lifeboat.

This movie, based on a true story, is extremely intense and exciting, so frightening, I don't think I could have watched it on the big screen, but on DVD, it was riveting and enlightening. There isn't any real violence until the very end, but the drama is kept at a unbearable level by the non-stop yelling of the pirates.

Their leader is played by Barkhad Abdi in his first acting role. He is outstanding and deserves his nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Tom Hanks delivers a powerful performance, remaining calm and providing a balance to the pirates' hysteria.

The script manages to elicit sympathy for the pirates because of their miserable lives; they live in abject poverty, forced to hijack ships by their warlords or die. The movie is excellent and highly recommended.
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105 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2014
It is not often that I am gripped and on the edge of my seat with the content of a film but this proved that some films can still do this for me. As a son of an engineering officer I spent many times aboard ship, container ships particularly. This film showed the sheer realism of life aboard ship and the dangers, and for once we have a film set on board a ship that shows this realism correctly. The suspense will have you on the edge of your seat throughout the film, building gently and ultimately to a thrilling crescendo. The ending is handled skillfuly and the mixture of raw emotions is heartrending.
Tom Hanks proves yet again what a wonderful character actor he is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2013
Captain Richard Phillips, has a war of nerves with Somali pirate captain Muse, who takes him hostage.

Phillips and Muse are on a collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips' unarmed ship.

In the ensuing standoff, miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control......

This time of year always releases the potential award winners, and thank goodness, because what we have in my opinion is the best film to be released in the UK as of November 1st 2013.

And after a slew of boring summer movies, it's such a welcome relief that we have something here so entertaining, so rich with narrative, and a career best from Tom Hanks. What more could you want from a film.

Yes the film is fundamentally about the takeover, but if you look a little deeper, it's about capitalism, and segregation, and how different cultures live. When Phillips speaks to his wife about how he is worrying about the future of his children, due to impending globalisation, you can read between the lines.

Even though its pretty far into the movie when the pirates takeover, it's pretty tense stuff from the beginning. You know what will happen, but you still want the crew to get away, and for the pirates to forget about their quest, and just go and make an honest living.

But you know you cannot change a story by wishing it, but these sorts of movies make you feel his way. The second coming of the pirates is white knuckle to say the least, and that's how the film is until the end, white knuckle.

But those words do not give the films feeling justice, Greengrass uses his docu style feel to full effect here. It ruined Green Zone, but here it adds to the atmosphere.

Much has been said about the final scene, and believe me, its the most riveting final scene I've seen in a while, and it had me in tears. If Hanks doesn't get nominated, I'll close my IMDb account.

But Abdi rivals Hanks on screen, and for a debut, it's the best I've ever seen.

So all in all, its a tense movie, never releasing you from its tense grip for the duration.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 June 2014
This American action thriller film is directed by Paul Greengrass and stars Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The film is based on a historical incident in which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips (Hanks)is taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean as part of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009, on which the pirates were led by Abduwali Muse (Abdi).

Going into this film, I was fully aware of the resolution - Richard Phillips survived the ordeal which I don't consider a spoiler as that is common knowledge. But I wasn't ready for the events surrounding the hijacking and subsequent hostage situation.

I admit that Tom Hanks drew me to this film, as he does with all his films, and I was on from the day he signed up to play Phillips and it's impossible to think of anyone else in the role. I can't describe the words for how gripping Hanks is once more on screen conveying every emotion possible in a way that goes just beyond acting. He isn't Tom Hanks on screen; he IS Richard Phillips.

Kudos also to Barkhad Abdi, a cinematic newbie who is chilling as the Somali pirate leader. It's hard to see the actors in this film other than the people they are portraying as they do so in a way that grips you. I straight away understood what Adbi wanted to convey in his portrayal, as with Hanks, and I was left clear as to their motivations and their ideals. There was no "villain" in my eyes, just two different cultures and countries butting heads in a dangerous situation.

From the tense hijacking sequence that makes inspirational use of the vast sea in which the 'Alabama' is crossing, going up against 2 small pirate skiffs and still losing, the film plays in two halves.

The first is the hijacking and tense negotiations on the ship, and the second is the close quarters hostage situation inside the lifeboat with Phillips and his captors as the US Navy embark a rescue mission.

It is brutal, it is brilliant and words escape me for how real it is. From award winning direction yet again by Greengrass, who taps into the humanity of Hollywood perfectly, and the leading players, this is a brave and engrossing tale of survival and hope that will have you from the steady tense build up of events to the shocking, nail-biting and heart-wrenching finale...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2014
"Captain Phillips" is the true story if the hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama cargo ship in 2009 by Somali pirates and is based on the the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" written by Captain Phillips himself. It tells the story of the hijacking of the 17000 ton container ship with a crew of 20 by just 4 Somali pirates in a skiff and the subsequent dramatic rescue of the kidnapped Captain by the US Navy. It was the first hijacking of an American ship for over 200 years. If it were not all true it would be hard to believe and could look like a typical American film with an unlikely plot where the US military come to the rescue and all ends happily.
However, the fact that this is a true story and the excellent directing by British director Paul GreenGrass (of Bourne Ultimatum and United 93 fame) make this a film that is definitely worth watching. Add to this some excellent acting by Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips and newcomer Barkhad Abdi as "Muse" the leader of the Somali pirates.

At the start we see Captain Phillips leaving his wife in the US to Captain the ship on it's journey from Oman to Mombasa. At the same time we see Muse in Somalia being coerced into taking a large ship hostage by his elders and getting together his crew to do so.
Once underway the Captain is clearly aware of the threat of pirates and is seen on board taking precautions and ensuring that the crew are rehearsed in all the necessary procedures. Then shortly after carrying out a drill for dealing with a pirate attack the Captains worst fears are realised as two small boats are spotted approaching them on the radar. The Captain orders evasive action and bluffs calls to a non existent nearby navy ship which successfully frightens off one of the boats - but the other led by the determined Muse continues the pursuit. Initially it seems they have shaken off the pirates but later they reappear and in a dramatic encounter manage to board the ship - though losing their own skiff in the process.

At this stage I was amazed that 4 poorly equipped pirates in a small boat could so easily board and take such a large ship. The ship was equipped only with water hoses to fend off the pirates and also used flares. I was amazed that given the known threat that the crew were not armed as with suitable weapons it would have been easy to deter the pirates. Only on subsequent research did I discover that at that time Insurance companies did not like cargo ship crews being armed as it led to a greater perceived liability - however now most such ships do hire private armed security teams.
Captain Phillips orders his crew to hide in the depths of the ship while he remains on the bridge which is soon stormed by the pirates. Muse then forces the Captain to help him search the ship for the rest of his crew. One of Muse's teams is injured by some broken glass placed inside a door by the ship's crew and Muse orders him to take the Captain back to the bridge while he continues to look for the crew alone. The crew ambush Muse and take him prisoner and in the melee that ensues Captain Phillips agrees with Muse that he takes the ship's lifeboat and all the cash they have and they just go. But Muse insists upon taking Phillips hostage in the lifeboat as he wants millions not just the 30,000 dollars on offer.

The remainder of the film has Phillips and the 4 pirates in the enclosed lifeboat trying to make their way back to Somalia but the US Navy move in and also fly in Navy seals and negotiators to resolve the crisis and free Captain Phillips. Much drama ensues and eventually Muse is taken onto the US warship to negotiate whilst the other 3 pirates and Phillips remain in the lifeboat. However, when it appears Captain Phillips life may be in danger Navy Seal marksmen simultaneously manage to shoot all 3 pirates in the head when they appear together at windows. Again - this would seem like typical American nonsense - but check it out - it is true - it is actually what happened and how the crisis was actually brought to a close.
What makes this film better than average is the excellent directing where the Captain is portrayed as an ordinary man - not a hero. The interplay between the Captain and Muse is superbly done. Muse is not your typical baddie either - it is clear that his (and his associates) are driven to this way of life. He calls the Captain "Irish" after he reveals he is American Irish and there is an excellent line where Phillips says to Muse "There's got to be something other than being a fisherman or kidnapping people?" to which Muse replies "Maybe in America, Irish, maybe in America". This sums up the disparity between the lives of the Captain and his crew and the Somali pirates.

I am not always a fan of Tom Hanks but there is no doubt that he is a fine actor and this is one of his best performances. And credit must go to Barkhad Abdi in his first film and being nominated for best actor in a supporting role.
The US Navy is very impressive but not overplayed in the normal heroic form but rather as an effective and coordinated force. Apparently it is a requirement of the US military that if they take part in a film then they are portrayed in a positive manner so perhaps Greengrass was a little limited in how he could portray their role. The finale is very dramatic and the effectiveness of the seals cannot be understated. However, what we see if an effective disciplined force and not the usual gung-ho nonsense we see in many US films. I believe that many of the Navy roles were actually played by actual Navy personnel.

One issue is that it does not make it clear that Captain Phillips may not have been as good as he was portrayed as he had apparently ignored directives to keep at least 600 miles from the Somali coast and was just 250 miles out when hijacked. One of the crew member subsequently brought a legal case against the Captain. But again, given that Greengrass using the Captain's own account of the hijacking to base the film then it is understandable that this fact was avoided.
Overall I would recommend this film for some fine acting and well directed drama. The plot would be full of holes if it were not all true so there is little negative that can be said there.

After the hijacking Muse was taken to the US and tried for piracy where he is now serving a 33 year sentence. All 4 of the pirates were between 17 and 19 years old.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
'Tom Hanks' remains among todays finest actors with many notable film role's to
his credit down the years including 'Forrest Gump' 'Cast-a-way' 'The Terminal'
and 'Saving Private Ryan' among them.
'Captain Richard Phillips' is in charge of cargo-ship 'The Alabama'
The route they have to travel takes them into the 'Somalia Basin' ships travelling
in those waters are well aware of the threat posed by 'Somalia Pirates'
The 'Alabama' travels alone through the notorious waters soon drawing the attention
of the 'Pirates'
The ship initially out-runs the pursuing hijackers, however they come again...........
this time they board.
The Captain has ordered lock-down, however the Pirates insist on searching the
vessel to locate the crew who have attempted to hide from the intruders.
The Captain does all he can to protect them
The film shifts up a gear when events take a turn when a trade-off leaves the Captain
in a hostage situation.
Things are going to become desperate for the hostage and hijackers alike.
Based on real events--the film is a tense affair, edge of your seat stuff indeed.
An outstanding performance from 'Tom Hanks'
Superb picture and sound quality throughout.
Features include :-
Commentary with director 'Paul Greengrass'
also:- Capturing 'Captain Phillips' - 58 minutes of in-depth behind the scenes featurettes
on the making of the acclaimed film
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2015
Without doubt one of the best 'tense' thrillers to have come out in recent years, reminiscent of films of the 90s, 'Captain Phillips', based on a true story, is a reminder that decent and original films can still be made by Hollywood, when they avoid opting for the lowest common denominator. Well-paced and intriguing, from beginning-to-end, the narrative, be it simplistic, is tight, handled with intelligence and clarity; there's nothing 'cheesy' and unnecessary about it (one can hardly believe their eyes...). Tom Hanks's portrayal of Phillips, in particular, stands out, showing he's still an exceptional actor; it's difficult to see how any of the "actors" of the current modern 'crop' could have pulled it off, and with so much honesty and emotion. And there lies the real strength of the film - in that it drags you in emotionally and requires you to empathize with the characters, to be part of the plot; even the Somalian-Pirates (acted out brilliantly) are rendered with such true-to-life humanity that you understand the reasons for their actions; at times, even rooting that they succeed. For what it is, a simple thriller, it's flawless. An impressive feat by director Paul Greengrass.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2014
One cannot begin to explain to someone who hasn't yet seen this movie just how gripping they will find it, and the exceptional movie experience that they are in for.
Tom Hanks is spell binding throughout but his performance after the end game is mesmeric.
After watching the film, read about what has since happened to the ship at the centre of the story following the portrayed events and rest easy that you don't have a life on the ocean waves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2014
I was expecting quite a lot from this film given previous glowing reviews - and it didn't disappoint. We were glued from the very first minute... and remained transfixed throughout. Utterly riveting, unbelievably intense and with a stellar cast (Hanks is just superb in the role of the captain), I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Edge of your seat stuff.

The only thing I would say is that it proclaims that Hanks empathises and gets to know the pirates during the time he is captive with them. This didn't really come across to me, there were moments where they showed a brief, human side, and one pirate in particular was more gentle, but I never really felt Hanks 'bonded' with the pirates much in any way. This doesn't detract one little bit from the excellent film, it's merely an observation... (as, if this is what happened in reality, it wasn't really written into the script as well as it should have). Still a fantastic film though.
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