Valissa Smith is managing partner of www.itsallaboutHER.com, an online resource for women. She is a proud member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. You can watch Valissa's movie reviews Fridays at 11:00 a.m.on the KSHB-TV Midday Newscast.
It was news that captivated the U.S. in March of 2009 - The captain of a ship hauling food aid half way around the world is hijacked by Somali pirates. Their route took him and his crew around the Horn of Africa, which at that time was a current hotbed for freight ship hijackings. Somali fisherman were commissioned to take over the cargo ships for ransom in retaliation for foreigners over fishing their waters.
Anticipating a potential problem, Captain Rich Phillips upon immediately port departure puts his crew through a hijacking drill. Before they could complete it, the ships radar indicates two skiffs headed straight for them. Without weapons to fight back, the pirates board the Alabama with plans to kill the crew and take the ship hostage. The fast thinking Captain and his survivalist crew give the four pirates a good fight. One that ends with Captain Phillips and the four pirates escaping the cargo ship in a life boat.
Military ships move in then the Navy Seals arrive to save the Captain. If you remember this news event, you won’t be surprised how it ends but it IS amazing to see how it’s accomplished and how Captain Phillips handles this dangerous ordeal.
What’s really surprising is the performance by the Somali actors who play the pirates: four Somali born men who now live in Minnesota and practiced and auditioned for the film as a group. Casting directors tried several combinations with other actors but kept going back to these four. They were friends in real life, none of them had ever done any professional acting, all of them still have family in Somalia and when they were told they got the part, they all four ran into the ocean in their clothes “to make sure it was real.”
They each held their own with veteran Tom Hanks.
Hanks was great. That’s all. There was one moment toward the end when he’s distraught that he sounded like an older Forrest Gump to me. Awkward.
What's impressive is that 75% of this film was shot on the water, in the tight quarters of a cargo ship, in small skiffs, inside that small life boat. And many of the scenes were shot without actors hitting marks, or cameras on tracks or any other fancy Hollywood tricks. And it's effective. It feels more real because the shots aren't always perfect.
There are many political and social overtones to this story, as their should be. I just never felt that terrified which I don’t think was the acting, I think it was the script. However, there was enough texture to keep me interested for two hours and 14 minutes. I wanted to see how those seals manage to pull this off. If nothing else, that’s worth a ticket to see the film.
Arruga! = 0
Fidget Factor = 0
Age Range = 13 and up
Overall Grade = B