Captain Phillips: A Story of Courage and Strength

“Domestic policy can defeat us; foreign policy can kill us” – President John F. Kennedy

Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips is based on the hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama by four Somali pirates in 2009.  The advertisements indicate it is an incredible story of survival, and it truly lives up to its statement. Greengrass captures the rattling story in a fashion that makes one proud of our military history and ethic to keep no man left behind. The feature film captures the spirit of the the American military and the courage of a brave captain and his will to keep his crew safe.

Captain Phillips PosterThe movie starts of with Tom Hanks, portraying Captain Richard Phillips, leaving his family in Vermont to board the cargo ship that would transport goods from Oman to Kenya. The specific route that was taken, has been notorious for issues of piracy and hostage takeovers and the crew of twenty had been trained to deal with such threats. Upon voyage, all seems to be well until their are two hijacking attempts, whereby, one unfortunately becomes successful. The interactions between the Captain and the Somalian Pirates is something that is analogous to the President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy doctrine of “Peace through Strength”. Many times the Captain would put his crew at utmost importance and did not reveal their location and dealt with the pirates in a very diplomatic fashion, significantly better than our current Secretary of State could. The ship has no source of firearms and cooperation is at the essence of the survival of the crew as external help was not an immediate option. The use of broken glass, sharp objects, and negotiation enabled for the crew and Captain to buy precious time and split up the pirates. Sitting on the edge of my seat to see how the crew would fair, I noticed how our Military is at the core of our ability to exert courage and strength from within and without.

The final scenes of the film display the excellence of our military and their commitment to the people. Patriotism is the theme that overwhelms this film and it is for good reason. In the hostage situation, the military deployed a significant amount of assets and personnel to save one person, thus, exemplifying the nation’s commitment to keep all safe even outside of our borders. The military could have struck early and wipe out the threat, however, that would have been at the cost of an American life. The United States has the best trained military in the world, and it must stay that way to protect individuals who tread into territories that are very hostile towards us. It was clear that in the instance of saving a life, everyone was able to put there political differences behind and put their skills on the line to create the best possible result. The element of day and night played a crucial role in the film’s patriotic tone to portray how the military’s only easy day was yesterday. No other country seems to be as proud of military service as the United States does and it is shown clearly through, the visualisation of Captain Richard Phillips’ situation.

The duty of service clearly is the great take away from this stellar film.  Through combining a strong cast and significant current events, Greengrass has made a film that will make everyone proud of the individuals who put their lives at risk to protect the liberties we enjoy back home. I highly recommend this film to all individuals who enjoy a great action and want a tale of truth in the life of cargo ships that go through such harsh routes to complete their jobs.



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