On Friday, the new Tom Hanks film, Captain Phillips, made its way into theaters. It is a story of adventure, life on the high seas and pirates. But beware land lubber, for here not be that kind of pirate movie. You won’t find any swashbuckling or scallywagging or peg legs or eyepatches or buried treasure. Nope, just the extreme poverty and futility of life in Somalia. Instead of the boyish good looks of Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp, you’ll find a dude who looks like a malnourished version of Omar from The Wire. And—SPOILER ALERT—not even once does anybody swing on a rope from one boat to another like a badass. I’m not even entirely sure that director Paul Greengrass knows what a pirate even is. It’s like, do your research, dude. Pretty disappointing overall.
I mean, I guess it’s a true story or whatever so I can’t be too critical. Tommy “The Gun” Hanks plays Richard Phillips, the real life captain of the MV Maersk Alabama. While traveling along the coast of Somalia in route to Mombasa, the ship is hijacked by a group of local pirates who take Phillips hostage and escape onto a lifeboat.
I’ve gotta hand it to Hanks though, he was pretty solid throughout. Dude was pretty much the whole movie, besides the aforementioned starving man's Omar Little. Oh, and Catherine Keener is in it for some reason. She’s in the film for for legit, like, twenty seconds and plays absolutely no role at all. She’s Tom Hank’s New England biddie because you already know El Capitan is a total Lou Bega when it comes to the broads.
In the film, Phillips is depicted as an attentive, conscientious leader, carefully selecting the safest route for his ship’s voyage and frequently drilling his crew to prepare for the unlikely event of a pirate attack. He’s essentially the overly concerned Jewish mother of the Somali Gulf. Put a jacket on, for god’s sake, you’ll catch your death. His crewmates roll their eyes, but deep down they respect this guy and everything he’s done to protect them. He’s like Sully Sullenberger and John Elway at the same damn time.
Though, after mulling this over a little, I couldn't help but think to myself that the real story was actually a lot more interesting than the fabricated one.
However, since the film’s release, a few of his old crewmates have come out of the woodwork and called shenanigans on Hollywood's depiction of ya boy Phillips. In fact, from what they’ve revealed, it seems like Phillips was actually a TOTAL DICKHOLE. According to an article in The New York Post, one crew member, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that Phillips showed a, “willful, wanton and conscious disregard for their safety.” In the three weeks before the events the movie, there had been 16 attacks on similar vessels in the region, so of course, the Captain thought it’d be best to direct the boat closer to the fucking Somalian shore. Then, when the ship was boarded by the pirates, he never once muttered, “If you’re gonna shoot somebody, shoot me!” like in the movie. Apparently, he just sat tight while some other bro (chief engineer Mike Perry) saved everybody's life. Phillips was pretty much universally disliked, and as The Post put it, “The crew didn’t know whom to fear more: the pirates or Phillips.” YOW!
So, the movie was a bunch of bullshit, but that’s just the nature of the game, right? It's only entertainment. You can’t get mad at some producers trying to turn this asshole’s story into a Disney Channel Original Movie—they’re just trying to bring home the bacon like the rest of us. Though, after mulling this over a little, I couldn't help but think to myself that the real story was actually a lot more interesting the this fabricated one.
Consider this: A reckless cock knocker of a captain whips around the Somalian Gulf with a callous disregard for human life like he’s Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October, or every taxi driver you’ve ever had in your entire life. After putting his crew at risk again and again, he becomes a villain. Then, he finally gets what he deserves when he’s captured by a bunch of crazy ass pirates. The crew celebrates their shitty captain’s absence by popping a bottle of champagne and high-fiving the shit out of each other. Huey Lewis and the News plays as the credits roll. Everybody lives happily ever after. Now, I’d pay to see that shit.
Four Pins Rating: 7.5/10 Yo Ho Ho’s and a Bottle of Rum
Matt Rimer is a writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter here.