2013, Movies

Captain Phillips (2013, Paul Greengrass)

This film reminds me a lot of Black Hawk Down, a similarly politically clueless film about East Africa, which is so well made and so compulsively watchable that, as a white Canadian, I stop caring about its political cluelessness.

The Somali pirates get only the teeniest bit of character development, with a token explanation as to why Somalis might turn to piracy and not much more explanation as to why these four might be so desperate to take a tanker. In the end, they are the usual foreign baddies menacing wonderful, well-intentioned and hard working Americans just trying to do their jobs and make the world a better place.

However, the film itself is non-stop, despite its length, and is one of those Hollywood marvels where a strong cast and tight pacing is combined in spite of the usual studio interference that can ruin such major productions.

Greengrass has made movies this taught before but not since he went to Hollywood. This reminds me of Bloody Sunday in its incessant pace and urgency – it’s great to know he’s still got it.

Hanks is his usual great self and the rest of the cast is strong enough.

A well-made, entertaining film that would have been better had it been written by someone who wasn’t so American in his outlook, but which still works as a film anyway.


  • Directed by Paul Greengrass
  • Produced by Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca
  • Screenplay by Billy Ray, Based on A Captain’s Duty by Richard Phillips, Stephan Talty
  • Starring:
    • Tom Hanks as Richard “Rich” Phillips / “Irish”
    • Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse
    • Barkhad Abdirahman as Adan Bilal
    • Faysal Ahmed as Nour Najee
    • Mahat M. Ali as Walid Elmi
    • Catherine Keener as Andrea Phillips
    • Michael Chernus as Shane Murphy
    • David Warshofsky as Mike Perry
    • Corey Johnson as Ken Quinn
    • Chris Mulkey as John Cronan
    • Mark Holden as William Rios
    • Yul Vazquez as Commander Frank Castellano
    • Max Martini as U.S. Navy SEAL commander
    • Omar Berdouni as Nemo
    • Mohamed Ali as Assad
    • Issak Farah Samatar as Hufan
  • Music by Henry Jackman
  • Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd
  • Edited by Christopher Rouse
  • Production companies: Scott Rudin Productions, Michael De Luca Productions, Trigger Street Productions
  • Distributed by Columbia Pictures
  • Release date: September 27, 2013
  • Running time: 134 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English, Somali
  • Budget: $55 million
  • Box office: $218.8 million

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