CAPTAIN PHILLIPS REVIEW (GRADE: A)
There's been some discussion in the media as to whether the new film Captain Phillips represents its title character accurately, mostly because there's some question as to whether he's represented himself accurately, and the screenplay is based on his book, A Captain's Duty. I'll let others worry about that. Most “based-on-a-true-story” movies favor dramatic flair over facts, so I've found it useful to take them as cinema first and as history a distant second. With that in mind, this is a crackerjack thriller, directed with nail-biting efficiency by Paul Greengrass (who helmed two of the three Matt Damon Bourne movies, though his use of handheld cameras is thankfully less distracting here).
Hanks does some of his best acting in years as Captain Richard Phillips, a family man who must think quickly to save his crew and himself once his ship is taken by Somali pirates. Also impressive is newcomer Barkhad Abdi as Muse, the desperate pirate captain whose survival is also at risk. Every moment feels realistic and every character is well-defined, making the stakes that much higher and the tension overwhelming. This is a can't-miss thriller.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Captain Phillips is rated PG-13. There are a handful of moderate profanities here and there, but not a steady stream of foul language. There is no sexuality or nudity. A man is hit on the head with a wrench and killed; another steps on broken glass and bleeds from his feet. A different man is cut on the hand with a knife. Captain Phillips is punched, choked, and beaten with the butt of a rifle. Some men are shot off-screen, though we see their blood splatter onto another character.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: In the film Captain Phillips sees that his captors' poverty and inability to earn an honest living have led them to piracy. Although their violence and aggression are not justified, he does develop compassion for them as he comes to understand them. Through him the audience learns to not judge others (Matthew 7:1-2). Often people act they as they do because they know no other way (Jacob 3:7). Instead of thinking of ourselves as superior, we ought to ask the Lord to show mercy to those who are struggling (Alma 38:12) and try to help them in any way we can.