MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Wide Box Office
Directed by Paul Greengrass. Starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi.
Captain Phillips is a fact-based film about a cargo ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009 and how the ship’s crew, assisted by a team of Navy SEALS, was able to ride out the days of tensions.
Tom Hanks plays the part of Capt. Richard Phillips and there is no doubt in my mind that his participation in this project is not only what helped this film get made, but also why it is named after his character and why folks are buying tickets to see it.
Captain Phillips happens to be a very good film (and Hanks is great in it), but most of the credit deservedly goes to British director Paul Greengrass, who has a way of filming historical reenactments (2006’s United 93 and 2002’s Bloody Sunday) in a way that is immediate and compelling. His use of handheld cameras and location shooting create a feeling of being present in the midst of the action.
Greengrass travelled to Somali communities in Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio to cast the pirates. And, although these are the first film roles for these actors, each of the pirates’ personalities are fully fleshed out, with Barkhad Abdi outstanding as Muse, the leader.
In flashback scenes we are given an opportunity to see the relative poverty in Somalia. And, as Captain Phillips has conversations with the pirates in a lifeboat, the audience has a chance to contemplate the inevitable and tragic trajectory of this hijacking. There is no way that things can turn out well. We are invited to care about the crew of the Maersk Alabama and to also empathize for the attackers in the process.
Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. As Captain Phillips tries to understand his captors and work out a peaceful resolution, we are encouraged to do the same.
Four halos: A film about courage as well as compassion.
Two pitchforks: Brief swearing, some violent shootings, and – dare I say it – piracy!
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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