If Gravity didn’t give you a heart attack, then Captain Phillips oughta to do the trick. The movie chronicles the experience of Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) after his ship gets hijacked by pirates in 2009 off the coast of Somalia. It’s an incredibly gripping movie that pulls you in right away. Not only does Tom Hanks do an amazing job as Capt. Phil, but the pirates do as well. Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed and Mahat M. Ali might all be new to the acting scene, but you’d never know it from their performances. Barkhad Abdi, especially, sells his roll as Muse so well in the movie that I have trouble believing that he’s not a pirate in real life.
However the excellent acting pales in comparison to the actual story. It’s nightmare-inducing. Like I seriously went home, went to bed and had a dream that pirates took over my childhood home. So to prepare you for these moments, I thought I could lay them all out for you. Right here and right now. Obviously there will be spoilers in this article, but the movie follows the true story so closely that you probably already know them.
1. When Captain Phillips drives with his wife to the airport
If we’ve learned anything from thrillers, it’s that the more mundane the movie starts, the more intense it will become. Captain Phillips starts with Captain Phillips worrying about his son’s study habits as he drives with his wife to the airport. It’s all very humdrum and very boring and very indicative of the terror that’s sure to follow.
2. When the pirates gather in Somalia to discuss hijacking the boat
This moment doesn’t necessarily make me want to pee my pants, but it does stress me out because of the problem it presents. We learn right away that the pirates aren’t pirates because they got inspired after watching Pirates of the Caribbean. They’re pirates because their lives depend on it. It’s not like they chose this career over banking. It’s a scary reminder of how lucky we are to live in a country where we’re not ruled over by warlords who threaten our lives every time we make a mistake at work. Captain Phillips does a great job of humanizing the pirates and not turning them into greedy stock villains who hijack ships for fun. As much as you come to hate their actions in the movie, you also come to pity them as you realize that their lives depend on taking Captain Phillips hostage.
3. When Captain Phillips first spots the pirates approaching their ship
Even though Captain Phillips isn’t sure why these two small boats are approaching his ship, we know why. And that knowing is enough to get your heart racing real fast. Will the Captain figure it out in time? Will the pirates succeed in getting aboard? How will they defend themselves against pirates with huge guns if they do get aboard? Even though I knew from the true story that they do get on the ship, I still crossed my fingers that the captain would be able to scare them off. And that the movie would turn into some kind of epic bromance story about a crew falling in love with each other.
4. When the pirates first come aboard the ship
Even though you know that this was coming, it still sends chills down your spine. Especially when you see how ruthless they are when it comes to getting what they wants. There’s one point where I really thought someone was about to get his brains blown out. Therefore I spent the majority of this part of the movie with my eyes closed.
5. When the pirates go down into the engine room
The good Captain Phillips has his entire crew hide in the engine room while he handles the pirates upstairs. While this plan seems great at first, it quickly backfires on him when the pirates demand that they search the ship together to find the missing crew. The closer they get to finding the crew — who mind you, are a bunch of a grown men huddling in a corner — the more my angina acts up.
6. When the pirates take Captain Phillips hostage
I think my heart stopped (and I saw the white light and all that heavenly jazz) when the pirates took off with the captain in that little lifeboat. And once you realize that the pirates have no plan and the boat has no fresh air and that there’s little to no hope that the captain will be saved, you feel pretty nauseated yourself.