“Is it worth paying for a ticket?”: Captain Phillips (2013)

I don’t know about you guys, but here in Australia, cinema tickets are outrageously expensive. As a result, I feel like I have to be really picky with the films I choose to watch. If I’ve paid money to see a film and it turns out to be boring or just plain bad, I get really annoyed! However, there are some films that are worth the ticket price and more. So, without further ado, here’s a new feature for this blog: “Is it worth paying for a ticket?”. At the end of this post, rather than a rating system, I’ll be telling you whether ‘yes’ you should pay to see a certain film during its run at the cinema, or, ‘no’ – don’t waste your money on it!

captainphillips-poster2I saw Captain Phillips (2013) last night and wasn’t really expecting much. I had a vague understanding of the central story and a good understanding of human rights issues in Somalia. An understanding of human rights issues is not really necessary, since the film does not explore fully the lives of impoverished Somalis – and it doesn’t expect you to take this into consideration either. But I’ll get to that later.

Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) is heading off on a giant commercial ship filled to the brim with containers, around the dangerous waters of the Horn of Africa to Mombasa. His voyage begins in an ominous way: Many of the security standards for the ship have not been maintained. He preps all staff on board in emergency procedures. Later, he receives an email warning all ships of piracy in the sea around the coast of Somalia. Unsurprisingly, the ship is later pursued by two small boats containing Somali pirates who intend to board it and take its valuables; including people, for ransom money. Captain Phillips must use all the resources he has in order to defend the ship and its crew from the pirates.

The best thing about this film is that it builds a marvellous amount of tension, which is sustained throughout. The music certainly adds to this, as does the increasing instability of the four Somali pirates. Tom Hanks is particularly great in this film. He competently displays a good mix between the salty affect of a ship captain, and an unwavering care for the welfare of his crew as the drama begins to unfold. Despite the controversies regarding the film’s supposedly flawed depiction of Phillips, it is undeniable that Hanks is excellent in this film.

Barkhad Abdi is amazing as Muse, the captain of the pirate ship. However, I take issue with the film’s portrayal of the four Somali pirates.Β The film attempts to humanise them by showing internal conflict and portraying some as more ‘morally good’ than others. However, unfortunately, throughout the film they are very one-dimensional. In real life, this is absolutely not the case, as there are a million horrible reasons why impoverished people commit such acts; the offending pirates are just the ‘mask’ of an incredibly sensitive and complex issue. It made me frankly quite angry to see people who are victims of poverty and corruption represented in such a simplistic way. However, at the same time, I’m not sure the film had the space to explore this side of the story. I’d love to see more films from the perspective of Somalis who are forced into a life of piracy by violent criminal groups, in order to give the issue more balance.

Overall, I really enjoyed Captain Phillips, despite my gripes with its portrayal of the Somalis. The story is fascinating and develops with a steady pace. At no point does this film lag or become boring. You know you’re buying a ticket to something that is going to be stressful and uncomfortable, but this one is definitely worth it.

Is it worth paying for a ticket? Yes!
Watch the trailer here.


  1. Surely worth it especially for Tom Hanks & Barkhad Abdi. Tickets here are very cheap though; nice take πŸ™‚

    1. Weren’t they amazing? Great casting in this film. You’re lucky you have cheap tickets! It’s crazy here! Thanks πŸ™‚

      1. Yup; and you get to watch movies for what is equivalent to an american dollar or maximum two, that too in the multiplexes – i believe that is quite cheap πŸ™‚

  2. This one is definitely worth paying a ticket for! πŸ™‚

    I think with the amount of time given, the portrayal and background story of the Somalis are done quite well. I guess it’d be a different kind of movie if that part was done more elaborately.

    Anyway, this is a nice new feature!

    1. I’ve been doing some reflecting, and I agree with you! The film would most likely have a totally different perspective if told fully from both points of view, and I’m not sure it would have had as much of an impact as a result. It might have even been a bit messy. I’m still on the hunt for a good film about the experience of Somali pirates though! If you’ve heard of any, please feel free to pass it on πŸ™‚ Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hey great review. Still haven’t caught this yet. But now Halloween is here and I can stop madly watching horror films for my site, there are a bunch of new releases I really need to start catching up on.

    Also, if you are still blogging at the end of the year (which I sincerely hope you are), give me a yell and I might be able to help you out on the ticket front. Even as an unpaid critic, you are eligible to join the Australian Film Critics Association (AFCA). Membership is $70 a year and whilst not all sessions at all cinemas are free, it means you will rarely have to pay for screenings. I am a member and 9 out of every 10 films I see are free. I would be happy to sponsor you and put in a good word for you (I have no idea how strict their membership conditions are, but they let me in).

    1. Thanks, you should definitely get to Captain Phillips eventually! I’m normally not one for big blockbuster drama films but this was a good one.

      Great advice regarding AFCA! I never even thought of applying! I definitely plan on sticking around, and absolutely will let you know when the time comes to apply. I just did a bit of investigating and it looks like it’ll be a bit of a wait, but so worth it. Thanks so much for this amazing help! πŸ™‚

    2. Yo Tim! I just remembered this comment as I was thinking about the Australian Film Critics Association. I’m thinking of joining! Would you still be okay with sponsoring me? πŸ™‚

      1. Anna! Apologies for the sluggish reply on this one. I would love to sponsor you. Put my name (Tim Hoar) down, and let me know if there is any more info that you need from me.

  4. Good review. I will say I thought Muse was pretty well developed, and that the pirates’ desperation and servitude was hinted at. I agree it wasn’t fleshed out, though. I also agree that the other three pirates were never more than archetypes.

    1. Absolutely. I think Barkhad Abdi was amazing at giving Muse some complexity in the face of a story that was not exactly balanced in that way. Definitely interested in seeing more of his work! Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

  5. Good review. I was also gripped by the tension of the film and when the end came I was really emotional and the relief I felt left me nearly overwhelmed. I think that, in terms of telling the story, the characters were as well developed as you could get without going way off track.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, this was a great film. I’ve recently found some other films about Somali ‘pirates’ that will hopefully provide the balance this one didn’t have time for! Hoping to see a couple of them soon.

    2. Thanks! Yeah, this was a great film. I’ve found some other films about Somali ‘pirates’ that will hopefully provide the balance this one didn’t have time for! Hoping to see a couple of them soon.

  6. Great review yo, glad you liked the film, you raised a lot of great points, but the two that I’m glad that you highlighted was Hanks’ performance and the level of tension in the film. Those were the main key points that worked for me and made it more than just your average thriller. This film had me on the edge of my seat just trying to figure out how Philips and his crew would survive their ordeal and I was definitely emotionally invested. This was my favourite film of last year by a mile, loved it. Paul Greengrass continues to kick ass as a director. πŸ™‚

    1. Totally agreed, the performances and tension made for one of the more stressful but satisfying watches of the year, kind of like Gravity!

  7. How did Tom Hanks miss out on a nomination for Best Actor at this year’s Oscars!? Captain Phillips was one of the highlights of 2013 for me mainly thanks to two phenomenal performances. As good as Barkhad Abdi is, I’ve rarely seen Hanks better than this.

    1. I am so angry about this! It was a total snub! He absolutely deserved a nomination because his performance was amazing. I loved Barkhad Abdi too, so I’m happy he was nominated at least. Between this and Blue Jasmine not getting nominated for best picture, this year’s Oscars are already annoying.

  8. […] of you might remember that after watching Captain Phillips (2013), I felt really frustrated because the portrayal of the Somali pirates in the film was fairly […]

  9. […] and Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street. I can’t choose. Barkhad Abdi was amazing in Captain Phillips and Jonah Hill was equally amazing in The Wolf of Wall Street. Both for different reasons – […]

  10. Tom Hanks was quite overshadowed by Barkhad Abdi throughout the film in my opinion but then in the final moments, he really showed everyone why he’s still one of the finest actors in the industry today. And this film was tailor-made for Paul Greengrass’ filmmaking style. One of my top 10 films of the year. Loved it. Brilliant review.

    1. Thanks! And totally, Hanks absolutely nailed that final scene. But Barkhad Abdi was consistently amazing! At the time I was really surprised that I liked this one because I’m not normally one for these types of films, but it was just so well done. Good job Paul Greengrass. πŸ™‚

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