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Captain Phillips/Rated PG-13 for violence and language.

In the hunt for Oscar Statuettes, Captain Phillips should be available for DVD viewing before the award ceremonies on March 2nd. The question is, will it win? And more important, do you want to see it? All in good time.

Like all well-known historical stories, the film’s suspense is dependent on the skill of the filmmakers. Before I saw it, I was very familiar with the events of April 2009 and the ultimate outcome for the container ship Alabama and its captain. While in command, Capt. Phillips ran into trouble while navigating waters within range of Somali pirates off the east coast of Africa. Pursued and boarded by four pirates, he did his best to cope with a situation while hoping that help was on the way. It was. It just took a little time to get there.

Tom Hanks plays the beleaguered ship’s boss, under a lot of pressure when the nasty-looking guys with the guns demand money. Big money. He offers them the $30,000 on board and a well-used VHS copy of The Crimson Pirate (1952). They take the cash, but had no idea what to do with the tape so they turn it down. As pirating goes, they could have picked up some important tips from Burt Lancaster as the pirate of the title, Capt. Vallo.


Things go from bad to worse as Phillips plays all kinds of tricks on the bad guys to keep his crew hidden and talk the Somalis out of stealing the sexy movie poster of Geena Davis as Morgan in Cutthroat Island (1995). (Geena also showed more skill at pirating than this hapless group with the guns.) Hanks/Phillips ends up a prisoner on a life raft with the pirates, as they try to escape with the cash and demand more in order to spare his life.

The four actors playing the pirates are outstanding – especially the already award- nominated pirate boss, Barkhad Abdi. BA and his family escaped from Somalia to Yemen, then fled Yemen for Minneapolis, Minn. Before being cast in CP, he worked as a chauffeur. This role may win him multiple awards including a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Hanks is hoping for another one for himself. He may well also get one, although the competition will make this tough.

CP was directed by Paul Greengrass, best known for his use of the shaky cam in the blurry and never still Green Zone (2010). He did better work for two of the Bourne films, The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). And his handling of another historical story, United 93 (2006), was filmmaking at its best.

Greengrass has done as good a job with Captain Phillips as could be done. If you aren’t familiar with the story, this beautifully made film will be a riveting and exciting event. If you are, it will be a little less riveting, but worth watching nonetheless.

Rated 3.4 out of 4.0 reasons to stay out of Somali waters unless you have an invisible ship.


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