“Captain Phillips” shakes audience emotionally

Faith Schweikert, Staff Writer

Chills. “Captain Phillips” leaves the audience simultaneously terrified and comforted in the best way possible.

The film follows the relationship between Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) of the US MV Maersk Alabama and the Somali pirate, Muse (Barkhad Abdi) during the first hijacking of an American cargo ship in over 200 years. Against impossible odds, the determined pirates catch ahold of the ship and pull at the audience’s heartstrings.

Hanks makes the film. Without him, it probably would’ve fallen flat even despite its other admirable qualities. He brings experience unparalleled to anyone else in the film. His emotions are to the extreme. His calm demeanor offsets the rest of his frightened crew during the pirates beginning attempts to board the ship while his desperate struggle to regain sanity after all is said and done, grip the audience, as they try to come up with a solution to end Phillips’ agony. Then they remember: they’re in a movie theater.

But that’s just how intrusive this biographical film is. The unsteady camera technique make the audience feel as though they are on the various vessels along with Phillips and the close-ups of each individuals face create a connection with each one. So much of the pirates’ stories can be told by their facial expressions. Because of this, by the end, director Paul Greengrass has forced the audience to sympathize with all but one of the pirates. He develops each of the four pirates stories, allowing for comparison of what would traditionally be considered the good and bad sides—the way he films simply displays both sides as one, not as pirates and innocent bystanders but as people.

It’s a stressful film, with a powerful ending. It’s worth it, though, to learn the complexity of a man faced with an impossible task. It’s worth it to know that there are people in this world who will give anything to save the lives of others with the hope that in the end, “everything is going to be okay.”