Captain Phillips (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 11, 2014 by  


Both filmmaker Paul Greengrass and actor Tom Hanks were able to use their talents in making this real-life hostage situation come to life on the big screen.  Featuring an amazing emotional performance from Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips” is a riveting and emotional film worth watching!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Captain Phillips


DURATION: 2hrs, 13 min., 55 sec.

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Sustained Intense Sequences of Meance, Some Violence with Bloody Images and for Substance Use)

Release Date: January 21, 2014

Directed by Paul Greengrass

Screenplay by Billy Ray

Based on the Book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea” by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty

Produced by Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin

Executive Producer: Eli Bush, Gregory Goodman, Kevin Spacey

Co-Producer: Michael Bronner, Christopher Rouse

Music by Henry Jackman

Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd

Edited by Christopher Rouse

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Paul Kirby

Art Direction by Su Whitaker

Set Decoration by Dominic Capon, Corey Hughes Shaw

Costume Design by Mark Bridges


Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips

Catherine Keener as Andrea Phillips

Barkhad Abdi as Muse

Barkhad Abdirahman as Bilal

Faysal Ahmed as Najee

Mahat M. Ali as Elmi

Michael Chernus as Shane Murphy

David Warshofsky as Mike Perry

Corey Johnson as Ken Quinn

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. Based on a true story, the film focuses on the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two-time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks, Best Actor, 1993, Philadelphia; Best Actor, 1994, Forrest Gump), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. The two men are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.


On April 7, 2009, the Maersk Alabama captained by Richard Phillips was boarded by four armed Somali pirates.

The ship which was carrying 17,000 metric tons of cargo which included 5,000 metric tons of relief supplies for Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and were enroute to Mombasa, Kenya.

In the process of being captured, despite having a crew of 20, because the crew was unarmed, Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage and the news of pirates capturing an American received nationwide media coverage, spotlighting the increasing problem of pirates in the region.

Richard Phillips survived the ordeal, none of his crew were killed and Phillips would go on to write the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea” which would receive a film adaptation.

The film “Captain Phillips” would be directed by Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “The Bourne Supremacy”, “United 93”) and a screenplay by Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games”, “Color of Night”, “State of Play”).

The film would star Tom Hanks (“The Da Vinci Code”, “Forrest Gump”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Green Mile”), Catherine Keener (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Into the Wild”, “Being John Malkovich”), Barkhad Abdi, Michael Chernus (“The Bourne Legacy”, “Men in Black 3”), Max Martini (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Pacific Rim”), David Warshofsky (“Taken”, “Now You See Me”, “Lincoln”) and Corey Johnson (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Kick-Ass”).

The film which was budgeted at $55 million, would go on to make over $209 million in the box office.

“Captain Phillips” begins with Richard Phillips (portrayed by Tom Hanks) receiving an e-mail at his Vermont home that he will be taking command of the MV Maersk Alabama from Port of Salalah in Oman to Mombasa, an area in the Horn of Africa that is known for its pirate activity.

While a bit tense, his wife Andrea (portrayed by Catherine Keener) talks about how their lives become more difficult and not easier (with the job that Richard Phillips does), meanwhile we see a group of young men being assembled in Somalia by an armed group meeting with village elder, selecting people and forcing them to go out onto sea and get another ship.  And if they are able to capture a ship, they will get paid.

As Captain Phillips is serious about the danger in the area, he has his crew go through drills to prepare for pirates in the region and has his second-in-command Shane Murphy (portrayed by Michael Cernus), make sure that every drill is being prepared, doors are locked and keys are secure.

But not long during the drill, Captain Phillips spot two skiffs on the radar.  As he tries to use tactics to sway the pilots from coming any closer, he manages to outrun them.

This causes concern among the crew members who feel they didn’t sign up for this danger to fight against pirates, others who respond that they knew the danger of taking the job, while others don’t like the idea they are not armed.  But they get a feeling those pirates may return and sure enough, one of them does.

As Captain Phillips contacts for help and tries to bluff the pilots that they are receiving air support and trying to use flare guns to push the pirates away, the four pirates led by Abduwali Muse (portrayed by Barkhad Abdi) managed come closer, while Captain Phillips has the majority of his crew hide in the engine room.

As the pirates board the ship, Captain Phillips tries to offer the $30,000 that he has in the ship’s safe, but because they captured an American ship, Muse wants to ransom the ship and crew for millions of dollars.

While Captain Phillips and his crew try tactics to warn his other crew of pirates searching the ship, the crew manage to capture Abduwali Muse, while the pirates have Captain Phillips.  And both agree to a trade for both men.

As the plan was to give them the $30,000 and have them escape via the ship’s lifeboat, the pirates escape on the lifeboat but also kidnapping Captain Phillips, in hopes to get insurance money.

As the pirates leave, the crew of the Maersk Alabama manages to contact the U.S. Navy and because American was kidnapped, the U.S. Navy Destroyer USS Bainbridge are contacted to stop the pirates from reaching the mainland by whatever means necessary.  Meanwhile, a SEAL Team is being dispatched to the area.

“Captain Phillips” details the danger that was involved in the rescue attempt and the ordeal that Captain Phillips had gone through when he was held by the pirates.



“Captain Phillips” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  Picture quality for this film is magnificent!  The colors are amazing, the details are perfect and you closeups feature sweat, blood and just anything that you can usually see in a person in real life, the amazing clarity of seeing those details are also amazing on Blu-ray.   There is a good amount of grain and colors and skintones are natural.  Videophiles should be pleased with the overall picture quality.


“Captain Phillips” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital is also fantastic!  From the musical score by Henry Jackman to the sounds of crashing water and AK-47 shots going in the air, to bullets hitting metal, announcements on the loudspeaker to the overall sounds of being out in the ocean, everything including spoken dialogue is crystal clear.  A fantastic lossless soundtrack!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.


“Captain Phillips” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Paul Greengrass.
  • Capturing Captain Phillips – (58:17) A three part segment on the making of “Captain Phillips”: Embarkation, Full Ahead and Stand Fast.


“Captain Phillips” comes with the Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet code for digital copy of the film.


When you have a filmmaker such as Paul Greengrass and a talented award-winning actor such as Tom Hanks together, you can definitely expect a wonderful film that would bring out the best of both men.

And in the case of “Captain Phillips”, the riveting true story of Captain Richard Phillips, a man who protected his crew but in the process was kidnapped by Somali pirates back in 2009, audiences are going to expect action and also emotional drama.  And this is where both Greengrass and Hanks were able to deliver.

Despite the criticisms by those who had worked with Captain Phillips or his novel, “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea”, the film was not about one’s personal life, it’s about a man who nearly was killed back in April 2009 and thanks to the US Navy and the Navy SEALS, he was freed and over a year later, was able to get back on the boat and work again.

But I see this film more than just a film about one Captain saving his crew and being rescued, but also see the film as a wake-up call to the growing danger for cargo ships.  The fact that we have been reading news of these ships and crews being captured, goes to show that despite the problem, there needs to be more done to help protect these individuals.

While certain ships have armed crews, many do not.  And one can make the argument that if they were armed, these individuals who are pirates, are often young people who have no decision but to work, sometimes by force through a crime boss who pretty much threatens villagers in trying to capture as many ships for the cargo and to get ransom money.

As Paul Greengrass was able to capture the tension, the emotion of what happened that day, he was also able to bring out a performance from the supporting actors.  Some who improvised with some cajoling from the director but able to get an emotion that was necessary.  This includes trying to get as much out from the Somali talent, some who have never acted before.

And of course, a lot was riding on the shoulders of Tom Hanks.  We have seen him give performances that has earned him countless Academy Awards, but it has been quite awhile, as Hanks has been known for his role as producer as of late.  And in the case of playing Captain Richard Phillips and trying to get a variety of emotions, Tom Hanks delivered.

Another person who delivered was Barkhad Abdi, who plays the lead pirate, Muse.  It’s not easy for any actor to work off the high-caliber performance by Tom Hanks, but Abdi did remarkably well.  And the film for the most part focuses on two men who are desperate.  One fighting for his life, the other wanting to prove that he is somebody back home and is capable of pulling off a significant job.

If there was one aspect of the film that felt forced and probably was not needed was its opening segment featuring Catherine Keener, trying to establish Captain Phillips as a family man who cares about his wife deeply.

The film tries to establish his love for his wife as he tries to write his final message for her, in case he was to die, but the opening sequence was probably not even needed as Keener as Phillip’s wife Andrea barely shows up in the film aside from the opening sequence and a quick line towards the end of the film.

Also, the film is more about tension and emotion as the story is straightforward, can the US Navy and the Navy SEALS stop the pirates in time?  And of course, the ending is already known because it was all over the news.  So, there are no major surprises for the viewer unless they never heard about what transpired between Captain Phillips and the Somali pirates.

But while “Captain Phillips” is not as a deep story-wise such as Hanks’ “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Green Mile” or “Cast Away”, he does manage to give an amazing performance.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic, while special features offers an audio commentary and three behind-the-scenes featurette, especially Richard Phillips telling people about differences from the film and what he experienced.

Overall, both filmmaker Paul Greengrass and actor Tom Hanks were able to use their talents in making this real-life hostage situation come to life on the big screen.  Featuring an amazing emotional performance from Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips” is a riveting and emotional film worth watching!




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