Customer Reviews: Captain Phillips (Two Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy)
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on October 13, 2013
Paul Greengrass' Captain Phillips is the story of a 2009 incident that most people probably still remember, when a group of Somali pirates boarded an American cargo freighter, the Maersk Alabama, and after failing to gain control of the ship, took its captain, Richard Phillips, hostage, resulting in the US Navy mounting an intense rescue operation to recover Captain Phillips. Directed by Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum) from a script by Billy Ray (Breach, The Hunger Games) based on a book written by Phillips and Stephan Talty about the incident, Captain Phillips is a well-crafted, tense docu-drama that captures the intensity of the events as they played out, from the moment the Maersk Alabama first sees the approaching pirate crafts to the moment when Navy Seals make their assault, ending the situation with deadly finality and the successful rescue.

More than anything else, the core of Captain Phillips is the contest of wills that takes place between Phillips (a finely nuanced performance by veteran Tom Hanks) and the pirate leader Muse (an amazingly intense performance by first-time actor Barkhad Abdi). Phillips is determined to do everything he can to keep the pirates from gaining control of the ship and to keep his crew from being captured and held hostage, while Muse is determined to succeed in achieving the pirates' version of the American dream, against all odds and no matter what risks he and his men must take. Hanks' Phillips is a man who desperately hangs on to his sense of calm in the face of mounting danger because he knows it's his - and his crew's - only path to safety. And survival. Abdi's Muse is more complex. On the one hand, he displays a relentless cunning and daring, combined with the ability to take the lead, that invites your unwilling admiration even as he engages in threats and brutality to gain and keep control of the situation. But at the same time, he shows an incredible naivety about just what he is doing, not thinking beyond securing his catch of the day. At one point he tells an astonished Phillips of his plan to go to America with the money he'll get from the ransom and buy a car. There is also a certain hubris about Muse that makes his character at least pitiable if not actually sympathetic as things begin to go wrong and he feels his control - and his chances for his big score - rapidly slipping away from him. This is most particularly brought home in the form of an increasingly unstable pirate named Najee (Faysal Ahmed) whom Muse had hand-picked for the operation but who now is threatening to kill their hostage.

The musical score by Henry Jackman (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass) is very well done, adding to the sense of rising tension without distracting from what is happening on the screen. And in addition to the music, Greengrass makes excellent use of sound, particularly the sounds of a ship gone dead in the water, creating a sense of an alien space that the pirates have invaded when they go searching for the crew, each random creak and clang breaking the silence wearing at the pirates' khat-frayed nerves. (Note: khat is a plant native to the region whose leaves, when chewed, act as an amphetamine-like stimulant, and all of the pirates are seen chewing khat since the operation began).

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a taut thriller that will keep your attention gripped to the screen for its entire 134 minutes.
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on September 12, 2013
One word, "Phenomenal" I could literally stop this review right there! I was invited to the first screening of the movie in Tampa and after having watched the trailer I knew for sure this was a movie I didn't want to miss. I accepted the invite and printed my tickets and informed friends of the screening so they could get theirs and then we waited for the day to arrive. In the meantime I began to research the story of the MV Maersk Alabama and the related hijackings.

First let me say this movie is a true story and seemed to match the details of the original story very accurately as it was based on the book "A Captain's Duty" penned by the man Richard Phillips himself and the screenplay was adapted from his book by Billy Ray.

The story begins introducing us to Captain Richard "Rich" Phillips and humanizes him through a discussion with his wife about their children. Within a few minutes, we're taken to a small village in Somalia where a band thugs arrives to pressure the locals into going back to the work of hijacking Marine Vessels and returning their cargo to the regional warlords where the ship is then ransomed back to the owners.

After a failed attempt to board the Maersk Alabama the pirates rejoin their mother ship and repair their boat and add a second engine to help the skiff catch the larger, more powerful vessel. The Crew users flairs, high pressure water hoses, a series of 30 degree turns in an attempt to fend off the pirates but, all their efforts fail as the ship is boarded and the skiff is sunk. The crew then goes into a series of rehearsed procedures in which most of them hide in the engine room where they take control of the ship and shut it down. From there two of them risk their lives going above deck to kill the generators which stops emergency lighting and the other retrieves food and water for the men in hiding.

In the meantime the pirate captain forces Captain Phillips to take him on a search for the crew to which, he leads one man into a trap that injures the man's feet. The Captain is then ordered to go with the injured man back to the bridge and he complies. Of course the rest of the crew seized the opportunity presented to them and overwhelm the Pirate captain. This sets up the event that would ultimately be the meat of the movie as Captain Phillips is supposed to be exchanged for the Pirate Captain and the pirates are supposed to take the life boat and head home but, they renege on their deal and take Captain Phillips with them.

Within a day of being notified the US Navy intercepts the small vessel and the rest of the story really is something you have to witness. I'm not going to go into much more than this as we're only about 30 minutes into a 2 hour and 10 minute movie and I really recommend seeing this movie as this is my new favorite movie of the year! Seriously, if this doesn't win best picture then Hollywood is an even bigger scam than I could have ever imagined.

Captain Richard Phillips is played by Tom Hanks and in my opinion, this is the best acting Tom Hanks has ever done. For the most part, there's literally nobody else you'll recognize in this movie and given his performance throughout the movie Hanks is more than up to the task of leading the entire cast straight to what is sure to be one award win after another. The 4 Somali Hijackers also did an outstanding job and they're literally unknowns without a single role to their acting career beyond this movie; they really did an incredible job in their supporting roles. Seriously, everybody in this film was spot on in their roles and I cannot say enough good things about the acting.

As for the political aspect of this movie, there was no swaying from either side and even the decisions made by Obama (this happened during his first term) were only referenced as orders from the White House.

Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this film and how deep it really went. It was a pretty intense and emotional ending which only further sealed this movie, in my opinion, as one of the best movies to come along in several years and it easily bests the majority of the films released in the past 2 years.

For the record, Somali Pirates have attempted three more hijackings of the Maersk Alabama since this incident and each time they were turned away by armed security forces so, this shipping company clearly learned from their mistakes.

And another note, the Captain actually returned to work within 2 years of the event.

*If any of you want to know how to get into these movies drop me an email and I'll gladly give you the information you want and you'll be receiving invites within a day or so.
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on January 24, 2014
I really underestimated this movie. I was not inclined to rent it, but I'm glad I did. The acting was superb; Hanks definitely gave an Oscar worthy performance, and the pirate captain was very convincing in his mixed emotions as things didn't go as planned. The script was riveting, leaving me at the edge of my seat the entire time.

Apparently, some of those who gave the movie only one star due to their perception of a ridiculous premise -- an unarmed crew with the captain shooting flares at the pirates -- don't realize the movie was based on actual events, that this was how the captain tried to defend his ship.

I also liked the fact that the piracy of an impoverished nation stemmed largely from the fact that fishing conglomerates had wiped out the fishing industry of Somalia, an important reminder of the damage our industries often impose on the economies
of other countries.

Would I recommend this movie? Absolutely, a truly worthy movie in terms of thought provoking as well as edge-of-your seat excitement in my opinion.
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on January 26, 2014
The Somali pirates in the movie should get the Oscar. The direction and fast paced movie keep you on the edge of your seat. Tom Hanks does a great acting job too. The power and competence of the United States in it's military (Navy and Seals as well as the Presidential orders) show how efficient the U.S. can be in times of crisis based on this true story. The tight quarters in which this movie was filmed is a "hats off" to the director and production of the movie.The two hours and 15 minutes go by in a flash!
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on April 29, 2016
This movie is well done however its frustrating, because the entire thing did not have to happen. 3 "pirates" wearing sandals and carrying AK-47s manage to take over a fully staffed, modern American cargo ship. They terrorize the crew and eventually escape with the captain. If even one shipmate had a gun on him this entire catastrophe could have been prevented.
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on January 23, 2014
The story was so intense. It's the toughest and heart wrenching story yet Tom Hanks played it Brilliantly. The powerful emotions tom hanks carried through out the movie makes you believe you are witnessing a true story.
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on January 23, 2014
This is a really good movie. I was bored one night and decided to watch this movie and it was an excellent choice. I am actually ready to watch it again because it was so good. Tom hanks was perfect for his role as the captain of the ship.
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on January 24, 2014
What a joke! Are they kidding me? They're telling us that there were 5 better acting performances by a leading man in 2013 than Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips ( not to mention Tom in Saving Mr. Banks as well!). Does the Academy hate Tom for some reason??? He rightly should have been nominated for BOTH films and most definitely should have won walking away with Captain Phillips. I'll NEVER watch the Oscars again.
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on January 15, 2016
I loved this movie. I am generally very careful of what I watch as a Christian but I have to say that Tom Hanks did an outstanding job in this film and kept it interesting and clean for the most part. Two thumbs up!
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VINE VOICEon October 28, 2013
I want you to close your eyes (not really, because then you couldn't read this) and imagine something for a moment. A weathered Bruce Willis sips his coffee while chatting up a group of young, muscle bound actors as they stare out at the open sea. Just as calm is setting in over the group, Willis sounds the alarms because there are pirates approaching. Next, we see Will Smith stagger into view as he wields a gun and tries his hardest to win an Oscar by talking with an uneven accent. He demands money, and lots of it, and next thing you know there is an all-out war as these seaman tear off their shirts, exposing their pulsating chest muscles, and race throughout the ship, taking out pirates left and right. Willis, who appeared old and weathered on the outset, turns out to be in better shape than he's ever been in his life and the finale centers on a meticulously choreographed fight sequence between him and Will Smith where he spews some one-liners and winds up single handedly rewriting history.

I shudder at the thought of what this movie would have turn into, had someone like Michael Bay directed it.

Thankfully, we don't really have to think much about that, since Michael Bay did NOT direct this. Paul Greengrass did, and while Greengrass has had his fair-share of directing action films (those Bourne sequels), he's done so with grit and class, and he's also managed to formulate some really interesting `adult' films (`United 93' still makes a serious impact on me). He's smart, and he understands that creating tension does not have to revolve around the obvious.

`Captain Phillips' snuck up on me. I was walking into this with some intrigue but little expectation. The reviews were strong, but I hadn't really read any of them. I only knew of their status through word of mouth. My biggest hesitation drew from the fact that Tom Hanks is an actor I just don't get. He's attained this reputation in the industry as one of the greatest actors to ever live, and yet I've been largely underwhelmed by his career. I consider his two Oscar wins to be two of the worst in the history of the Oscars, and I just, as a whole, don't find him very compelling. That isn't to say that I've never liked him, for I have on occasion (his ease and naturalness in `That Thing You Do' was a great moment for him), but overall I just don't care for him. So, to hear that this is his career best didn't mean much to me; at the time.

Now that I've seen the film I have to say that I'm speechless as to the power he brings to EVERY moment of this performance, and those final twenty minutes are some of the best acting I've ever seen put to film, by anyone.

The film tells the true story of Richard Phillips, the captain of the MV Maersk Alabama, a US cargo ship sailing to bring supplies to Africa. While passing through Somalia waters they are hijacked by Somali pirates. The danger of pirates had become a real thing over the past few months, and it was something that Captain Phillips was aware of and cautious about, but it wasn't anything any of them were really prepared for (it had never happened to an American ship before). Just when it seemed like they had avoided the worst, one persistent pirate by the name of Muse winds up getting aboard the ship, and from there things take a drastic turn.

I have to admit that I was really unaware of a lot of this story. I remember when it happened, but I don't remember the details and so some of the shifts in this film and the plot details took me by surprise, in a good way. For over two hours, this film had me trying desperately to breathe. By the end, I was literally shaking in my seat. The intensity level of this film is hard for me to describe, but I told my wife when we left (who was sobbing by the end of the film) that I had never felt like that while watching a movie. It isn't the same feeling of intensity when watching a scary film or an average adventure epic. There was such brutal honesty to each frame that the heightened empathy felt for Captain Phillips was something I almost couldn't bare up under. Watching his plight felt almost too real, too authentic.

His emotional breakdown ("Can you see this?") is choking me up right now, just thinking about it.

This has already been a great year for film, and `Captain Phillips' is up there at the top. It fuses genres together with precision yet an ease that makes the whole thing feel genuine, never forced. The action is there, but the intensity of the film transcends that aspect and really lives and breathes in the moments (and large segments) where the action is non-existent. The dedicated performances by the entire cast, but more notably by Hanks and Abdi, really bring an earnest authenticity to this film. I said to my wife when we left the theater that I had NEVER seen fear so honestly depicted on film than while watching Tom Hanks react to the pirate intruders. Greengrass's decision to keep the American cast from meeting the African actors before filming began was a smart choice, for it added an authenticity you can't fake.

Another thing I really appreciated about this film, and something that I think should be noted, is that the treatment of the pirates was very astute. Muse, while terrifying, has an actual arc (however subtle it may be) and helps create a well-rounded portrayal of the truth. While their actions are never condoned, you can sense a personal desperation, and when Phillips pleads with visible anger ("You're not just a fisherman!") you can sense a backstory that holds Muse to his profession and his course of action. Like he said, he's gone too far now.

This has become the biggest surprise of my `film year' so far, and I'm ecstatic at how excellent this film really is. Technically perfect, with a pitch perfect cast and a resounding finale that will lift your spirits but never in a heavy handed way (such devastating honesty), this is a film you CANNOT MISS!
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