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. It is – through director Paul Greengrass’s distinctive lens – simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.









Film information

Genre: , , , ,
Starring: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Release date: Oct 11, 2013
MPAA rating: Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
Official website:
Runtime: 134 min
Movie Reviews:
  • 100
    Washington Post - by Ann Hornaday
    Captain Phillips is such an impressive dramatic achievement that it comes as a shock when it gets even better, during a devastating final scene in which Hanks single-handedly dismantles Hollywood notions of macho heroism in one shattering, virtually wordless sequence. more

  • 100
    The New York Times - by Manohla Dargis
    Captain Phillips, a movie that insistently closes the distance between us and them, has a vital moral immediacy. ...

  • 100
    Philadelphia Inquirer - by Steven Rea
    Captain Phillips is harrowing, inspiring, a must-see piece of moviemaking. more

  • 100
    Chicago Sun-Times - by Richard Roeper
    Even as Greengrass’ signature kinetic style renders us nearly seasick and emotionally spent from the action, it’s the work of Tom Hanks that makes this film unforgettable. more

  • 100
    Charlotte Observer - by Lawrence Toppman
    As we bounce over rough seas on the Maersk, we know just what will be lost if the Somalis don’t keep their trembling fingers off their triggers. As the title suggests, this is not a movie about an incident: It’s a movie about a man who stays very real to us. more

  • 100
    Tampa Bay Times - by Steve Persall
    At this point in his celebrated career, there shouldn't be much new that Hanks can show us. But there is, as the actor reaches deep inside to express the relief of dodging death as I've never seen it played before. He's in shock; we're awed. more

  • 100
    Empire - by Dan Jolin
    Both Greengrass and Hanks are on award-deserving form in a riveting, emotionally complex and hugely intelligent dramatisation of a real-life ordeal. more

  • 100
    New York Post - by Lou Lumenick
    It falls to Hanks and his movie-star presence to anchor this ambitious enterprise, and he does some of his most impressive acting without saying a word. more

  • 100
    The Playlist - by Rodrigo Perez
    It’s a breathlessly told movie; both meticulous and frenetic, sweat-soaked and methodical. It will take hold and won’t let you go, and it’s one of the most engaging movies of the year. more

  • 91
    Portland Oregonian - by Marc Mohan
    The pressure cooker atmosphere builds for almost too long, but when the resolution finally occurs, the sense of relief is that much more palpable. more

  • 90
    NPR - by Bob Mondello
    Hanks and Abdi are so compellingly matched that unlike with most thrillers, it won't be the action climax in Captain Phillips that'll stick with you. It'll be that aftermath, which gets at the emotional toll of terrorism in a way few movies have. ...

  • 90
    The Dissolve - by Keith Phipps
    Captain Phillips could have stopped at simply depicting what happened; it’s the steps it takes to examining why it happened that make it extraordinary. more

  • 89
    Austin Chronicle - by Marjorie Baumgarten
    With Captain Phillips we get a viable thriller whose conclusion is already known, and a character who reacts to circumstances rather than a personal, heroic code. And now, it’s a story preserved in brine. more

  • 89 - by David Ehrlich
    While this is arguably Greengrass’ best film, it’s almost certainly his most urgent. more

  • 88
    Rolling Stone - by Peter Travers
    It might have all been another Hollywood-formula flick with American might taking on the alien other. But Greengrass gives Phillips and Muse the time, aboard a covered lifeboat, to discover shared beliefs and fears. more

  • 88
    USA Today - by Claudia Puig
    The climactic rescue by Navy SEALs is riveting. But it's Phillips' devastating after-the-fact shock that leaves the most haunting impression in this ambitious, taut and captivating thriller. more

  • 88
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch - by Joe Williams
    Despite the obvious mismatches involved, this isn’t a simplistic smackdown. Freighted with weighty issues, Captain Phillips is a film worth debating. more

  • 88
    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) - by Liam Lacey
    Captain Phillips manages to expose us to a few things that are unusual in a thriller, including sympathy for the enemy and, in Hanks’s performance, the frailty that is the other side of heroism. more

  • 88
    Miami Herald - by Rene Rodriguez
    In Captain Phillips, director Paul Greengrass pulls off the same remarkable feat he accomplished with "United 93": He takes a true story in which the outcome is already known and transforms it into a gripping, wrenching, devastating thriller. more

  • 88
    Boston Globe - by Ty Burr
    Director Paul Greengrass creates an aura of urgency so compelling, so rooted in detail, that we temporarily forget what we know and hold our breaths for two-plus hours of tightening suspense. more

  • 88
    ReelViews - by James Berardinelli
    Captain Phillips works precisely because Hanks isn't a muscle-bound, gun-toting figure (nor does he turn into one during the course of the movie). Placed in an untenable position, he uses guile and intelligence instead of brawn and weapons to enhance his survival chances. more

  • 88
    Movie Nation - by Roger Moore
    The performances and Greengrass’s way with action immerse us and make Captain Phillips a tight, taut,edge of your seat thriller even if you remember the ending. more

  • 83
    Christian Science Monitor - by Peter Rainer
    Greengrass is an expert hijacker, too. He hijacks our good sense. ...

  • 83
    Entertainment Weekly - by Owen Gleiberman
    A great many filmmakers — too many — use handheld cameras to evoke a sensation of raw, this is really happening immediacy. But director Paul Greengrass is unique. At a glance, his live-wire, ragged-camera method may seem overly familiar, but the way he employs it, that method is as expressive as the style of a superb novelist. more

  • 80
    Arizona Republic - by Bill Goodykoontz
    Captain Phillips is a voyage well-worth taking. ...

  • 80
    The Guardian - by Peter Bradshaw
    This a quasi-war movie set in peacetime; these men are fighting to the death, but not for nation or principle or ideology — or at least, not a conscious ideology: they are caught in larger economic currents. more

  • 80
    New Orleans Times-Picayune - by Mike Scott
    The surprise is that Captain Phillips is a surprise in the first place, pitching and rolling tirelessly like the sea on which it is set and, in the process, becoming one of the most enjoyable and well-made movies to hit theaters this year. more

  • 80
    The Telegraph - by David Gritten
    Captain Phillips is a triumph of solid, professional and sometimes inspired film crafts, deserving of all the plaudits that come its way. more

  • 75 - by Susan Wloszczyna
    It's one of the most emotionally draining climaxes of the year. more

  • 75
    Chicago Tribune - by Michael Phillips
    It is, however, just about perfect in its wrenching emotion, expressed by an actor clearly up to the challenge of acting in a Paul Greengrass docudrama — which is to say, acting with as little capital-A Acting as possible. more

  • 75
    The A.V. Club - by A.A. Dowd
    More often that not, however, Captain Phillips is riveting. Though he remains unfortunately convinced that violently shaking his camera is the best way to achieve visual urgency, Greengrass nevertheless excels at pressure-cooker scenarios. more

  • 75
    indieWIRE - by Eric Kohn
    It's hard to imagine Captain Phillips in the hands of any other filmmaker -- and Captain Phillips in the hands of Greengrass looks exactly like anyone familiar with his work would expect. It does justice to the material even while playing too conscientiously by the book. more

  • 70

  • 70
    Village Voice - by Stephanie Zacharek
    Even if Captain Phillips treads into some ideologically rough waters, there's one thing that's hard to find fault with: Hanks gives a performance that goes from good (through the first 124 minutes) to extraordinary (in the last 10). more

  • 70
    New York Magazine (Vulture) - by David Edelstein
    It’s when the Somalis spirit Phillips away in a closed lifeboat that Captain Phillips becomes a great thriller, in part because Barry Ackroyd’s camera is stuck inside with the characters and its jitters finally seem earned. more

  • 70
    Variety - by Scott Foundas
    There is something too dry and austere about Greengrass and Ray’s telescoped vision, which touches only fleetingly on the pirates’ motives, the suffering of the Somali people and the collateral damage of global capitalism. more

  • 63
    Slant Magazine - by R. Kurt Osenlund
    It works too hard to keep matters on an even, we're-all-more-alike-than-different keel, which is just one part of its chief problem of forcefully conveying information and intent. more

  • 60
    Time - by Richard Corliss
    Hanks has a wonderful scene, late in the film, that shows a strong man collapsing into frailty. It hints at the emotional depth the movie might have plundered. The rest of Captain Phillips must rely for its drive on the relentless mechanical agitation of Henry Jackman’s score. It can’t save an overly muscled docudrama that is more pounding that truly gripping. more

  • 60
    Time Out New York - by Joshua Rothkopf
    Director Paul Greengrass remains a genius of claustrophobia, yet his better films — "Bloody Sunday," "United 93" and "The Bourne Ultimatum" — all beat with a stronger sense of central identification. He doesn’t have as much to work with this time, and his solution is to slow down the pace. The result is more clarity, but also more monotony. more

  • 60
    The New Yorker - by Anthony Lane
    Why, then, do we not feel bullied by the result? Partly because the camera, as I say, tells a subtler tale than the dialogue does, and lures us into a grudging respect for the bravado of Muse and his men; but mainly because of Tom Hanks. This most likable of actors deliberately presents us with a character who makes no effort to be liked. more

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User Comments & Reviews

  1. Liana Shimunova

    It all pays off in a truly powerful closing scene that features some of the best screen acting Hanks has ever done.