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Captain Phillips: Movie Review

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Tom Hanks' new movie, Captain Phillips, may seem familiar as it's based on the true story of a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia back in April 2009.

The Oscar-winning actor (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia) gives a gut-wrenching performance as Captain Phillips, one that may get him another Oscar nod come nomination time. Right there with him is newcomer Barkhad Abdi, whose portrayal as Muse, a Somali pirate leading the hijacking attack, is also noteworthy.

Rated PG-13, Captain Phillips contains scenes too violent for children. Caution is advised. (More on this below.)


With reports of piracy along the coast of Somalia, Captain Richard Phillips isn't taking any chances. His crew onboard the US-flagged Maersk Alabama will be ready to defend their unarmed cargo ship. Soon his fears are confirmed when he spots two unidentified boats filled with armed men approaching. Taken hostage, Captain Phillips is at the mercy of his captors, lead by the calculating Muse. Both of their fates intertwine when forces beyond their control disrupt Muse's plans.


Director Paul Greengrass takes you on a thrilling ride in Captain Phillips. The film has a good pace of calm moments (even humorous ones) that lead to heart-pounding drama. Engaging from the moment Captain Phillips spots the pirates, this Universal Pictures release avoids feeling predictable even though the outcome is known.

What makes this movie are the commanding performances given by its cast, specifically Hanks in the title role and his counterpart, Abdi, as the pirate who's desperate to reach the Somali coast with his hostage. Audiences will see Hanks' talent full screen, particularly in the film's final scenes. Abdi does well in presenting an intriguingly, complex portrait of the ‘bad guy'.

Captain Phillips' PG-13 rating is for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use. Some of the Somali characters are shown chewing khat, a regional plant that contains an amphetamine-like stimulant. Foul language is sparse; however, a crew member does use profanity. Violence is a major factor in making this film PG-13, with gunfire and its effects playing a big role.


Captain Phillips has a slow start, but soon builds to a captivating momentum as we see a dramatic take on what really happened during the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. If you can brave the violence, it's one to see.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's