Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Captain Phillips

Great Story-Telling
About a True Hijacking
By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
Captain Phillips
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali

Two amazing movies two weeks in a row! Last week, I thought Gravity had taken me to outer space, and this week I felt like I had experienced being hijacked by pirates. I thought Sandra Bullock’s performance in Gravity is Oscar worthy, but now I think Tom Hanks will be in the running for his performance in Captain Phillips.

The acting of the four Somalian pirates was superb, too. This was their acting debut and they are originally from Somalia but are now living in a Somalian immigrant community located in Minneapolis. Their acting was so good that at times I felt like I was watching a real documentary.

Captain Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) is based on a true story of a commercial freighter that was hijacked in 2009 as it traveled around the horn of Africa.  The movie begins by showing two opposing captain’s lifestyles. We first see Captain Phillips’ comfortable lifestyle and his family as he prepares to leave for his work. The film then moves to Somali, where we see a very poor village where Captain Muse (played by Barkhad Abdi) prepares for his work as a pirate. They live in very poor conditions and with few conveniences. They also have a ring leader who demands that they continue pursuing more and more money. (In the movie, Muse reminds us that the ocean has become over-fished and full of toxins, leaving native fishermen of Somali with very little way to earn a living for their families.)

The film portrays Captain Phillips as a very caring, competent and honest leader. He is concerned about the safety and welfare of his crew. His ship is equipped with intricate equipment, huge engines, nice offices, warm clothing and nice bedrooms. In contrast, the hijackers arrive in two small skiffs with unreliable engines, and some of the crew don’t even have shoes.

The hijack scenes are intense, and the director’s filming style has the camera placed very close to each person. I am not sure if that was to show the tighter spaces that ships have or to get into the personal space of each character.  Either way it was very effective.

The rest of the film takes place in a small, capsule-like life boat. The four hijackers and Captain Phillips are aboard the craft. It is very hot inside and they don’t have much water. It is here that we see Captain Phillips caring about the pirates. As I watched, I was thinking that he must be a Christian.  He is worried about the welfare of his capturers, much like Jesus was while he was hanging on the cross.

Captain Phillips wants to know what is going on in the other captain’s mind that has turned him into a hijacker. Muse says he is just a fisherman. Although this movie is a secular story, I couldn’t help feeling reminded of Christian beliefs as Captain Phillips tries to convince the pirates to give up their ways.

Since this is based on a news story, I don’t think I will spoil the end; most people have already heard about it. There is a lot of violence at the end, and it’s very graphic. Throughout the entire ordeal, Captain Phillips stays calm and has a clear presence of mind. When Captain Phillips is rescued and gets off the lifeboat to board the navy ship’s medical facility, it is very clear that he is in shock. Tom Hanks portrays this so well. I wanted to cry with him. I was relieved, too. At that moment, I had a revelation that this was similar to how folks handle traumas in their life or young children who grow up in difficult situations and then, once they are out of the situation, they start to fall apart.

On a side note, this part of the movie wasn’t in the original script, and the doctor in the film is not an actress but an actual Navy doctor. I thought this scene was Tom Hanks' best acting.

This is an excellent movie. It shows the emotions of the characters, both the good guys and the bad guys, reminding us that even evil-doers are people we should care about. The film brings you into the scenes and shows how important is the human dignity of each person and that we are all very precious to God.

We also must think about how everything that we do as a person, community, corporation and nation affects everyone else. The Bible tells us in several places that we are many parts of one body (see Romans 12:4-5).

This movie is rated PG-13; however I don’t recommend it for younger children because of the more violent scenes

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. Name some leaders who you consider to be good shepherds like Christ?
  2. How are fishermen a symbol of who God wants us to be today?
  3. If you were held prisoner, how concerned would you be about your captors?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please contribute to this discussion. All posts are moderated for the greater glory of God. Therefore, there will be a delay while we manually approve each post.