Finally, a film that I can rejoice about. I wrote about this film back in 2011 and I have been anxiously anticipating it’s release ever since. I was not disappointed either and I highly recommend this film.
For those that are not familiar with this incident, here is a quick snippet from wikipedia.
The Maersk Alabama hijacking was a series of maritime events that began with four pirates in the Indian Ocean seizing the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama 240 nautical miles (440 km; 280 mi) southeast of the port city of Eyl, Somalia. The siege ended after a rescue effort by the U.S. Navy on 12 April 2009. It was the first successful pirate seizure of a ship registered under the American flag since the early 19th century.It was the sixth vessel in a week to be attacked by pirates who had previously extorted ransoms in the tens of millions of dollars.
The story of the incident was reported in the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea (2010) by Stephan Talty and Captain Richard Phillips, who had been master of the vessel at the time of the incident. The hijacking also inspired the 2013 film Captain Phillips, with Tom Hanks playing Richard Phillips in the title role, Barkhad Abdi playing Abduwali Muse and Faysal Ahmed playing Najee.
What is unique about this film is that the audience already knows what has happened, so the directors/actors/writers all had to make a movie about the journey or story, and make it compelling enough to keep the audience’s attention. I believe this film accomplished this task. The director Paul Greengrass is also famous for directing the Bourne movies, and you can totally see that style of film making in this film.
For Captain Philips, Tom Hank’s performance and portrayal of the man was excellent. He did not over act the thing, and you really got a sense of the frustration and fear he and the crew experienced prior too and during this incident. The last scene of the movie was especially gut wrenching, and this performance among others will make this movie a strong contender for the Academy Awards. (six nominations by the way…)
The other star of this film is the Somali pirates. The movie did an excellent job of summarizing what drives these pirates and not choosing a political angle. At first I thought they would justify why these pirates are doing what they are doing because of a lack of fish or some other lame excuse. That these were ‘poor fishermen’ and all the fish have been removed by larger commercial operations so they had to turn to piracy.
Nope, the pirates mentioned this angle briefly as an excuse, but at the end of the day, a pirate is a pirate. And you see the Captain Phillips character go through this arc of perception of his captors as well. At the end of the day, he came to the right conclusion that these were greedy and violent men, bent on doing whatever it took to get the job done. So I was glad that the movie portrayed these guys correctly, yet still gave you something to think about as to their reasoning for being pirates.
Which by the way, the Somali pirate leader Muse was played by Somali actor Barkhad Abdi and he did an outstanding job! He played the role perfectly as a ‘Captain Ahab style leader‘, driven to capture his whale called the Maersk Alabama. Barkhad is also an Academi Award nominee.
I have been following the maritime security industry for the last couple of years, ever since piracy became a huge deal. The Maersk Alabama hijacking brought some seriously needed attention to the matter. It is just one incident of many, that really drove my thoughts and opinions on what needed to happen in the maritime security industry. That less than lethal was a joke when it came to dealing with pirates armed with RPG’s and AK 47’s.
As I watched the film I kept thinking that these guys needed armed guards–which was my mantra back when this first came out in the news. If anything, this incident got the ball rolling as to why armed guards are so important, and the film did an excellent job of showing why. I am sure the audience came to the same conclusions as well.
To that point, it was the outstanding accuracy and cunning of the Navy SEAL sniper team that ended this ordeal. I thought this aspect of the movie was well played, and proportional. The SEAL aspect of this film did not drown out the Somali pirate crew story or the Maersk Alabama crew and captain story. It was all equal parts of the story, as it should be.
I was also taken aback by the enormity of the shipping ports and these vessels. The actual Maersk Alabama vessel was used in this film, thanks to Maersk, and the US Navy contributed aircraft and vessels as well for this film. All of it added realistic detail to the film and made it very believable. You actually felt like you were there with Captain Phillips and the pirates and the Navy SEALs, as they all were living through such horrible and complex ordeal.
A big hat tip to director Paul Greengras and executive producer Kevin Spacey, and the rest of the crew/actors/writers for getting this movie made. This thing gets a big Feral Jundi thumbs up and definitely check it out on the big screen if you can! -Matt
Buy the DVD box set on Amazon here.
Facebook page for film here.
Official page of the film here.