Now THIS is what film-making is all about! With Paul Greengrass ("United 93" and the "Bourne" franchise) at the helm, we can expect a PG-13, white-knuckle ride. We see the massive US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama container ship taken over by four scrawny rifle-toting pirates in a puny little boat off the coast of Somalia in 2009, the first American ship hijacked in two hundred years.
The script by Billy Ray ("The Hunger Games") is based on (Captain) Richard Phillips book, "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" which depicts these events from his personal experience.
Although we are already familiar with the situation from 2009 news accounts, we see the wildly contrasting lives of our principals: the high-tech environment enjoyed by modern maritime workers, as opposed to the starkly marginal survival of the Somalis who are ordered to "Go get us some money!" I was fascinated by the ubiquity of khat, the mildly addictive African narcotic used in Muslim countries because alcohol is forbidden. Chewing a khat leaf dulls the appetite, which makes life there a bit more endurable.
There were many wonderful characters but I won't devote any more space to them. Instead, I urge you to see the film and tell me if you agree that the last ten minutes will earn Mr. Hanks another Oscar.
Kudos for top-flight sound, photography, art direction, set design, script, and acting. Even though I almost succumbed to the "Stockholm Syndrome," I was really impressed by this one!