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Movie Review of Captain Phillips the movie (2013 movie)

Updated on July 15, 2019
Journey * profile image

Nyesha loves writing about cooking/recipes, restaurants, movies, weddings, and poetry.

Captain Phillips Movie Review (2013 Movie)

Captain Phillips Movie Review (2013 Movie)

Dedicated family man, Richard Phillips works as the captain of a large cargo ship as his profession. He was set to embark on a journey to the horn of Africa on April 1, 2009 and to be away from his family on this journey for 12-13 days. Instead, he could not reunite with his family within the planned timeframe because his vessel was attacked by Somali pirates.

With one son off to college and another well on his way, Captain Richard Phillips was accompanied only by his wife for his drive to the airport. He traveled to Oman by airplane and then was set to board his vessel with his plan to navigate the journey on ship for approximately 2 weeks.

The confident captain

In the fascinating film, Captain Phillips, we are given insight into and become aware of the sacrifices this family man makes to go to work and provide for his family. The captain is confident in stature and demeanor and is greeted and addressed with the respect he deserves as the captain of a cargo ship.

An attentive crew

As Captain Phillips approaches the ship from land at the port in Oman, everyone acknowledges that Captain Phillips has arrived, greets him and as he boards the ship, all of his crew is attentive and ready to take his instructions.

Crew member Shane

In Captain Phillips the movie, perhaps the crew member that Captain Phillips has the most one to one dialogue with is a character named Shane who briefs him on the cargo that the ship is carrying. It has many tons of supplies including food for humanitarian aid in Africa.

Tom Hanks plays the role of Captain Phillips

In the movie, Captain Phillips, based on a true story, Captain Phillips is played by critically acclaimed actor and Academy Award winner, the famous actor Tom Hanks. The real life Captain Richard Phillips went through his ordeal with his cargo ship being attacked by Somali pirates in April 2009 and production on the movie, Captain Phillips began by April 2012 with release to theaters in 2013 and 2014.

Tom Hanks gives and outstanding performance as Captain Phillips and Captain Phillips is an excellent movie

I write this movie review in June 2019 after seeing Captain Phillips the movie for the first time recently, on DVD. I did not know much detail about this story before watching Captain Phillips the movie.

Tom Hanks gives an outstanding performance as Captain Phillips. The movie, Captain Philips is engaging and riveting. The DVD jacket cover touts this movie as one of the best movies for the year of its release and that is quite fathomable. Captain Phillips is an excellent movie.

A contemplative man

In Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Captain Phillips, we see an intelligent, introspective and contemplative man that puts his family first in everything. He takes a small 4x6 framed family photo from his home office and sets it up in his space immediately upon boarding the cargo ship in Oman, the USS Maersk Alabama. To offer a more authentic portrayal of the ship crew’s experience, the movie Captain Phillips is also filmed on an actual cargo ship, the sister ship to the USS Maersk Alabama and not a set.

Safety first

In the movie, Captain Phillips, it is alluded to from the very beginning that Captain Phillips has every intention of getting back to his family safe and alive. He is heightened and on alert. He takes nothing for granted. Captain Phillips has educated himself well on the potential dangers. He has been hearing a lot about the activity of pirates in the region and he wants his crew to be as aware and alert as he is. He takes them through a series of safety drills that include knowledge of what actions to take in the event that the cargo ship is hijacked by pirates.

Being cautious

It’s no wonder that this cautious and reflective man is the captain of the ship! As the ship leaves port and embarks on to sea, Captain Phillips stays on high alert and often looks towards the ship’s surrounding area with binoculars. His intense eyes often make the audience feel like he knows: something is going to happen. Something is going to happen.

Just fishermen?

Indeed, he sees activity in the waters and does not hesitate to call for help but when he calls, he is told to be reassured that the men in the small boat not too far away are probably "just fishermen".

On board the ship, Captain Phillips and his crew have no firearms to defend themselves from what turns out to be NOT just fishermen but rather pirates. The pirates have huge guns of their own (AK 47s?). Captain Phillips is brilliant as he improvises and leads his crew to do the same for self defense.

High intensity

This high intensity action film, Captain Phillips will have you yelling back at the screen so perhaps it really is better to watch it on DVD in the privacy of your own home instead of in a movie theater with other audience members that you might disturb!

First, when he did not get the help he asked for, Captain Phillips disguised his own voice to lead the pirates to believe that help was on the way for Captain Phillips’ vulnerable cargo ship. This led the pirates in two small boats to panic and look towards the skies to see if a defense aircraft were approaching. The pirates turned back! Score 1 for Captain Phillips.


As the pirates turned back, we see a glimpse into the world of how menacing and brutally violent these pirates can be to achieve their agenda. With savage betrayal, one pirate murders another pirate and soon enough, not two small boats but just one are in pursuit of the cargo ship again. The pirate that just murdered another pirate and starts to pursue the cargo ship again is driven on a vengeful mission and considers himself “fearless.” In his mind, he will not be stopped. This is powerful in making the movie watcher fear even more for Captain Phillips and his crew’s safety. The character of this pirate is so menacing, it is like watching a horror movie.

Armed pirates board the cargo ship

This “unstoppable” pirate and a couple of followers that accompany him do indeed make it onto the cargo ship from their small boat this time without turning back! Their method to climb onto the large ship is literally to use a ladder to get from the small boat to the higher ship.

With the armed pirates now aboard the cargo ship, the ship has been compromised and Captain Phillips and his crew are now in grave danger!

Clever Captain Phillips has already instructed the majority of his twelve member ship crew to hide. There are only a few crew members left by his side when the pirates enter. How much time will this really buy for everyone’s safety?

Remember, Captain Phillips the movie is based on a true story

The movie watcher is on the edge of his or her seat to find out. When you are watching the movie, Captain Phillips, you will constantly have that awareness in the back of your head that this is all based on a true story. That makes it all the more affecting and riveting as you watch everything that unfolds. If you had only heard about the real life Captain Phillips and did not know the details of everything that occurred during his ordeal, then that will make watching this movie all the more suspenseful.

Clever versus clever

The Somali pirates portrayed in the film are also very “clever” and the few that board the ship do have some elementary knowledge of the English language. Every time, Captain Phillips tries to thwart the plans of the Somali pirates, they are deeply angered and become even more menacing and threatening.

"Where is your crew?"

When the leader among the Somali pirates asks, “Where is your crew?”, Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips says, “I don’t know.” This really angers the Somali pirates intensely.

The leader of this small group of Somali pirates is not playing and “No games.” becomes quite a catchphrase of his. Throughout the disturbing ordeal, he frequently says things like:

  • “Everything will be ok.”,
  • “Everything will be alright.”,
  • “No one will get hurt.”
  • “We just want money.”
  • “You think I am an idiot?”
  • “No Games.”
  • “We don’t want your food or water. We want money.”

No games.

Looking for millions of dollars not thousands of dollars

In the movie Captain Phillips, once aboard the vessel, the Somali pirates get to the point relatively quickly as they ask about money and inquire about how much is available, all while armed, waving their guns and acting very menacing.

Captain Phillips says there is $30,000 in the safe.

This is yet another opportunity for the pirates to lament, ‘they think we’re idiots!’

These pirates are looking for millions of dollars not thousands of dollars and at one point, the leader even boasts that the last time he hijacked a ship as a pirate, he got $6 million.

Too much talking

Quick witted and clever, there are many times when Captain Phillips has a retort. He asks the pirate leader, “if you got $6 million, why are you here then?”

Honestly, at times one of the things that you will want to yell at the movie screen is at Captain Phillips to “shut up”, in the interest of saving his life as these people have guns pointed towards him.

Sometimes, the pirate leader engages Captain Phillips in conversations, sometimes he tells him to shut up – too much talking. Whenever Captain Phillips tells the pirates something that they do not want to hear, they often become even more angered and threatening.

Smart men

Throughout the movie, Captain Phillips and the pirate leader end up having discussions and speaking with each other much more than you would expect a ship captain in a hostage situation to do with a pirate. They are both smart men. One uses his smarts for good. The other uses his smarts to commit atrocious evils.

In the latter part of the movie, the cargo ship crew is again safe and Captain Phillips becomes the lone hostage of the pirates. The way that this occurs is through another “betrayal” by the pirate leader. The pirate leader gives the impression that he agrees to a “deal” of taking a lifeboat and the $30,000 from the safe in the cargo ship and beginning to head back to Somalia.


The pirate leader reneges on the deal and ends up taking Captain Phillips along as a hostage on the lifeboat. Captain Phillips’ crew, alive and kept safe through many strategic decisions made along the way now grieve and mourn the fact that Captain Phillips has been taken hostage in this small lifeboat that begins to drift away from the large cargo ship.

Towards the end of the movie,

Sometimes the pirate leader will say something like, “I got bosses.” Captain Phillips will say, “Everyone’s got bosses.”

“You’re not just a fisherman.”

“There’s got to be a better way (than kidnapping and threatening people).”

The pirate leader says, “Maybe in America. Maybe in America.”

The pirate leader had taken Captain Phillips and plans to ask the US government for millions of dollars as the ransom. Remember, he wanted millions not thousands of dollars.

You're not just a fisherman.

— Captain Phillips to the Somali pirate leader

So now, there are four people in the lifeboat: Three pirates and Captain Phillips. Soon they are surrounded by US military in the air and on the sea. For Captain Phillips, help has finally arrived. The pirates still have their guns with them and they still threaten Captain Phillips continuously. Captain Phillip, who has shown tremendous courage and fortitude now audibly admits that he has had enough and is starting to break. He can’t take this anymore!

Will the US military and the hostage negotiations allow for all four of these men to come out of this little lifeboat alive?

That becomes the big question as this intense movie, Captain Phillips is near reaching its end.

I rate this movie, Captain Phillips, 4 out of 5 stars. ****

Captain Phillips the movie is an excellent film, worth watching. I highly recommend it!

Captain Phillips the movie is rated: PG-13, moments of violence.



4 stars for CAPTAIN PHILLIPS the movie



Want to know what happens?

Are you sure?

Only scroll down if you want to know.

Ok, ok:

At the end of Captain Phillips the movie,

  • The pirate leader survives and is captured. He is currently serving 33 years in prison. His name is Abduwali Muse and he was taken to the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

  • In order to bring Captain Phillips out of the lifeboat alive, the two remaining pirates, one of them quite young and estimated to be only 16-17 years old at the time, were killed with extreme precision by US military sharp shooters with orders to execute and end the ordeal that took so much military time and man power to resolve.

  • While traumatized and in a state of shock, Captain Richard Phillips survives and returns to his cargo ship captain profession within months after healing and after being reunited with his family.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS International Movie Trailer


Do you ever yell at the screen when you're watching an intense movie?

Do you ever yell at the screen when you're watching an intense movie?

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© 2019 Nyesha Pagnou MPH


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    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      No problem

    • Journey * profile imageAUTHOR

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      5 weeks ago from USA

      Hi Michael, Thanks so much!

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      Good review! It's amazing what Phillips had to go through based on what you said in your article. Tom Hanks is great in almost every role he's in so there's no surprise about him being good in this film. Keep up the good work!


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