Captain Phillips’ makes waves at box office

A security drill interrupted by a real-life attack threw the Maersk Alabama crew for a loop. Escaping the approaching skiffs manned by armed pirates, the crew knew they were yet to reach a state of smooth sailing.

“Captain Phillips,” set sail for theaters Friday, Oct. 11 captivating audiences with the story of the Maersk Alabama hijacking and Capt. Richard Phillips’ hostage crisis involving Somalian pirates.

The action-thriller directed by Paul Greengrass takes audiences into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia to experience the trepidation of the 2009 hijacking. Viewers witness the anxiety of the crew as the band of pirates relentlessly pursues the Maersk Alabama and the horror of being held at gunpoint as the pirates spew out demands. Phillips is taken aboard the lifeboat as a hostage, and audiences fear for him as he awaits rescue by the U.S. Navy. Under the surveillance of four pairs of money-hungry eyes and guarded by guns quick to be fired, Phillips teeters on the brink of life and death for five days.

Tom Hanks, as Phillips, faced off against antagonist Muse, played by Barkhad Abdi. From every look in their eye to every word sounded from their lips, these two actors brought forth the realism of the event. The nurse who takes care of Phillips at the end of the movie is an actual Navy nurse, making this production more real world and less Hollywood.

The desire in Abdi’s eyes and his threatening smile meet with Hanks’ panic-born gaze and nervous tone, creating the quintessential battle between pirate and captain-captain and captain, rather. The emotional shift at the conclusion of the strife shows Abdi’s eyes transition from desirous to defeated. Hanks’ screams of pains, muttered sighs of relief and tears stimulate ease among viewers as Hanks is helped out of the lifeboat.

The film’s direction and production are excellent. Audiences witnessed the takeover of the Maersk Alabama step by step, invalidating doubts of how four men on a very small boat could even keep up with a ship of such magnitude.

Juxtaposing the crews at the start of the movie with an emphasis on their respective missions depicts the danger of international waters. Muse said Phillips owed him money; it was like a tax for traveling his sea.

Stimulating to say the least and a history lesson, too, “Captain Phillips” is praiseworthy and a likely box office success.

Michelle Foti can be reached at

Author: Michelle Foti

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