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Captain Phillips (2013)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, Thriller  |  11 October 2013 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 296,571 users   Metascore: 83/100
Reviews: 506 user | 480 critic | 48 from

The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.



(screenplay), (based upon the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" by), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 123 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
SEAL Commander
Mohamed Ali ...
Issak Farah Samatar ...


Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is - through director Paul Greengrass's distinctive lens - simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips' unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control. Written by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

captain | pirate | somali | ship | hostage | See All (159) »


Out here survival is everything

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »




Release Date:

11 October 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Captain's Duty  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$25,718,314 (USA) (11 October 2013)


$107,100,855 (USA) (28 February 2014)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Chris Mulkey's character starts talking about him being in the Union and not being paid to deal with pirates, only Tom Hanks knew that Mulkey was going to start saying those things. The reactions of the rest of the cast was completely real and natural. See more »


At the beginning of the medic scene, the medic cuts off the yellow Navy shirt Phillips had been wearing and puts it on the counter. Later when they pan down his body, you can see the yellow shirt sitting around his waist, as if it had just been cut off his shoulders, not cut completely off. See more »


[first lines]
Andrea Phillips: Okay. You all right?
Captain Richard Phillips: Yeah.
Andrea Phillips: You'd think these trips would get easier, but it's just the opposite.
Captain Richard Phillips: Well, I feel the same way, Ange.
Andrea Phillips: I know this is what we do. This is our life. But it just seems like the world is moving so fast, and right now things are changing so much.
Captain Richard Phillips: They sure are.
Andrea Phillips: I'll tell you something. It's not gonna be easy for our kids. They'll be going into a different world than the one you and I came into.
See more »


The End
Written and Performed by John Powell
Courtesy of Universal Studios
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Action the Greengrass way
7 June 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Based on an event that garnered worldwide attention in 2009, "Captain Phillips" tells the tale of two total strangers, both hailing from opposites corners of the earth, who are brought together by circumstance and fate.

One of those individuals is Richard Phillips, the captain of an unarmed cargo ship sailing through international waters off the coast of Africa en route to Mombasa, and the other is Abduwali Muse, the leader of a band of Somali pirates who are determined to board the ship and hold its captain and crew hostage for ransom.

Billy Ray has based his screenplay on the book "A Captain's Duty" by Steven Talty and Phillips himself. The movie, directed with his usual taut precision by Paul Greengrass, relates the story in step-by-step detail, exploring the relationship between these two wildly disparate but equally desperate captains, as a thrilling real-life drama plays itself out on the high seas. While Phillips' self-sacrificing heroism - and that of the Navy Seals who successfully took out three of the four pirates - takes center stage in the drama, Ray is still able to give Abduwali his due, making it clear that the young man has been driven to this action as much out of desperation as out of greed or criminal intent, since illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste on the part of foreigners in that area have pretty much depleted the Somali fishing grounds, leaving men like Abduwali without any viable means of supporting themselves and their families. Sadly, piracy becomes the next obvious step in the struggle for survival. It would have been easy to have turned Abduwali and his cohorts into one-dimensional villains, but, to their credit, Ray and Greengrass have chosen not to do so.

This complexity of character is attributable in no small measure to the outstanding performances by veteran Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his work here. Together, they create a human dynamic that carries the film far beyond the heart-stopping, race-against-the-clock surface aspects of the drama. Not that the visceral is in any way slighted, for in true Greengrass fashion, the film moves along at a breakneck pace, rarely slowing down to give the audience a chance to catch its breath along the way.

By far, the most effective scene in the movie comes right near the end, after Phillips has been rescued and is taken to the ship's trauma center to ascertain his physical and mental condition. Unlike the vast majority of movies and TV shows in which characters who are subjected to horrifying circumstances seem to bounce back from them almost immediately, "Captain Phillips" shows us the true human response to a life-shattering, traumatic event (thanks in no small measure to Hanks' magnificent acting).

It is just this type of insightful verisimilitude that informs each and every moment of "Captain Phillips."

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Very Touching moment by Navy Medic imdbmovie
Disappointing: America's supremacy ZakariaRmidi
Tom Hanks acting leonwatson79
Up to how many kidnappers are we ok to kill, to save one innocent life? LetoMoon
Has Hanks done a bad movie? no54
Seriously, U.S. Merchant Marines should at least to the extent be armed. paulioetc17
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