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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Captain Phillips can be found here.
If you're prone to feeling sick when films adopt a "shaky cam" style, this is an intense example of that, which offers little relief. However, compared to the director's previous works, there is less shaky camerawork in this movie (he was previously criticized for using too much shakiness).
Piracy off the East Coast of Africa became so endemic during the period that various countries came together to form Task Force 150, an international coalition using a fleet of dozens of powerful warships and aircraft to patrol the area and protect merchant shipping. However the striking range of the pirates using 'mother ships' (captured seagoing fishing vessels used to deploy the fast motorboats used in the actual hijackings) was huge, extending from the Maldives in the South of the Indian Ocean to the Straits of Hormuz at the entrance of the Persian Gulf in the North. Despite being one of the largest international fleets ever assembled in peacetime this meant the warships were pitifully few to cover an area of nearly a million square miles.
Arming civilian sailors creates a multitude of legal difficulties for the ship's owners because each ship would have to obey the gun laws of the countries it is visiting (for instance in the UK handguns are wholly illegal in private hands). There have been several incidents of ex-military veterans employed as armed security guards being arrested in just these circumstances.
Attacks by pirates declined by 90% between 2012 to 2013 as a result of actions by the international naval task force, private armed security guards protecting merchant ships (avoiding legal restrictions by transferring to a privately charted mothership which stayed in international waters whenever they made port) and the military intervention in Somalia by neighbouring African countries. By 2016 the problem had virtually disappeared.
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