Captain Phillips (film)

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Captain Phillips
Captain Phillips Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Produced by
Screenplay by Billy Ray
Based on A Captain's Duty 
by Richard Phillips
Stephan Talty
Music by Henry Jackman
Cinematography Barry Ackroyd
Edited by Christopher Rouse
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) (NYFF)
  • October 11, 2013 (2013-10-11) (United States)
Running time
134 minutes[1]
Country United States
  • English
  • Somali
Budget $55 million[2]
Box office $218.8 million[2]

Captain Phillips is a 2013 American biographical survival thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The film is inspired by the true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, an incident during which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse.

The screenplay by Billy Ray is based on the 2010 book A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty. Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca served as producers on the project. It premiered at the 2013 New York Film Festival,[3] and was theatrically released on October 11, 2013.[4] The film emerged as a box office success grossing over $218 million against a budget of $55 million. In 2014, Captain Phillips received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Abdi.[5][6]


Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) takes command of MV Maersk Alabama, an unarmed container ship from the Port of Salalah in Oman, with orders to sail through the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa, Kenya. Wary of pirate activity off the coast of the Horn of Africa, he and First Officer Shane Murphy (Michael Chernus) order strict security precautions on the vessel and carry out practice drills. During a drill, the vessel is chased by Somali pirates in two skiffs, and Phillips calls for help. Knowing that the pirates are listening to radio traffic, he pretends to call a warship, requesting immediate air support. One skiff turns around in response, and the other – manned by four heavily armed pirates led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) – loses engine power trying to steer through Maersk Alabama's wake.

The next day Muse's skiff, now fitted with two outboard engines, returns with the same four pirates aboard. Despite the best efforts of Phillips and his crew, the pirates secure their ladder to the Maersk Alabama. As they board, Phillips tells the crew to hide in the engine room and allows himself to be captured. He offers Muse the $30,000 in the ship's safe, but Muse's orders are to ransom the ship and crew in exchange for millions of dollars of insurance money from the shipping company. While they search the ship, Murphy sees that the youngest pirate Bilal (Barkhad Abdirahman) does not have sandals and tells the crew to line the engine room hallway with broken glass. Chief Engineer Mike Perry (David Warshofsky) cuts power to the ship, plunging the lower decks into darkness. Bilal cuts his feet when they reach the engine room, and Muse continues to search alone. The crew members ambush Muse, holding him at knifepoint, and arrange to release him and the other pirates into a lifeboat. However, Muse's right-hand man Nour Najee (Faysal Ahmed) refuses to board the lifeboat with Muse unless Phillips goes with them. Once all are on the lifeboat, Najee smacks Phillips into the vessel before launching the boat with all five of them on board.

As the lifeboat heads for Somalia, tensions flare between the pirates as they run low on the herb stimulant khat and lose contact with their mother ship. Najee becomes agitated and tries to convince the others to kill Phillips. They are later intercepted by the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge. Bainbridge's captain Frank Castellano (Yul Vazquez) is ordered to prevent the pirates from reaching the Somali coast by any means necessary. Even when additional ships arrive, Muse asserts that he has come too far and will not surrender. The negotiators are unable to change his mind and a DEVGRU SEAL team parachutes in to intervene, while Phillips makes an unsuccessful attempt to escape from the lifeboat before being recaptured and repeatedly bashed by Najee.

While three SEAL marksmen get into positions, Castellano and the SEALs continue to try to find a peaceful solution, eventually taking the lifeboat under tow. Muse agrees to board Bainbridge, where he is told that his clan elders have arrived to negotiate Phillips's ransom. In the lifeboat, Phillips prepares a goodbye letter to his wife in case he is killed, while Najee decides to take full control. Najee spots Phillips writing the letter and beats him further. Phillips retaliates by wrestling Najee until Bilal subdue Phillips by striking him in the back with his AK-47, injuring him. Najee convinces Bilal and Elmi that Phillips must be killed. The pirates tie up and blindfold Phillips, leaving him to say his final goodbyes. As the pirates prepare to shoot Phillips, Bainbridge's crew stops the tow, causing Bilal and Najee to lose balance. This gives the marksmen three clear shots and they simultaneously kill all three pirates. Muse is arrested and taken into custody for piracy. Phillips is rescued from the lifeboat and treated. Although in shock and disoriented, he thanks the rescue team for saving his life.

In the post credits it is revealed Richard Phillips soon returned to sea after his recovery while Abduwali Muse was sentenced to 33 years jail for orchestrating the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, and the kidnap and attempted murder of Richard Phillips.


Tom Hanks (left) portrayed Richard Phillips (right).




Sony Pictures optioned the film rights shortly after the publication of Richard Phillips' memoir A Captain's Duty in 2010. In March 2011, actor Tom Hanks attached himself to the project after reading a draft of the screenplay by Billy Ray.[10] Director Paul Greengrass was offered the helm of the untitled film adaptation during the following June.[11] A worldwide search subsequently began to find the film's supporting Somali cast. From this search, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, and Mahat M. Ali were chosen from among more than 700 participants at a 2011 casting call at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis. The four actors were selected, according to search casting director Debbie DeLisi, because they were "the chosen ones, that anointed group that stuck out."[12]

Producers visited the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum to see the bullet-scarred, five-ton fiberglass lifeboat aboard which the pirates held Capt. Phillips hostage so that they could accurately re-create the boat and interiors for the set.[14] They were also able to view an example of the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle UAV used to monitor the crisis,[15] as well as the Mark 11 Mod 0 (SR-25) sniper rifle (the type used by the U.S. Navy SEALs), both also on display at the museum.


Principal photography for Captain Phillips began on March 26, 2012.[16] Filming took place off the coast of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.[4][17] Nine weeks were spent filming aboard the Alexander Maersk, a container ship identical to the Maersk Alabama; it was chartered on commercial terms.[18] The USS Truxtun, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and sister ship of USS Bainbridge, served as a set piece in the film.[19]


The film score to Captain Phillips was composed by Henry Jackman.[20] A soundtrack album for the film was released in physical forms on October 15, 2013 by Varèse Sarabande.[21] Additional songs featured in the film include:[22]


Box office[edit]

Captain Phillips grossed $107.1 million in North America and $111.7 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $218.8 million, against its budget of $55 million.[2]

The film grossed $25.7 million in its opening weekend, finishing second place at the box office behind Gravity ($43.2 million).

Critical reception[edit]

Captain Phillips premiered on September 28, 2013, opening the 2013 New York Film Festival. The film was praised for its direction, screenplay, production values, cinematography, and the performances of Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi.[23][24][25]

Captain Phillips received critical acclaim and has a "Certified Fresh" score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 246 reviews with an average rating of 8.3 out of 10. The critical consensus states: "Smart, powerfully acted, and incredibly intense, Captain Phillips offers filmgoers a Hollywood biopic done right—and offers Tom Hanks a showcase for yet another brilliant performance."[26] The film also has a score of 83 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 48 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[27]

The film was nominated for 4 Golden Globes, including Best Picture (Drama), Best Actor in a Drama (Hanks), Best Supporting Actor (Abdi) and Best Director (Greengrass).[28] It did not win in any of the categories.[29] The film was also nominated for 9 BAFTA Awards, including Best Film, Best Director (Greengrass), Best Actor (Hanks), Best Supporting Actor (Abdi) and Best Adapted Screenplay.[30] Abdi won the film's only BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor.[31] The film was also nominated for six Academy Awards; Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Abdi), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.[5] It did not win in any of the categories.[6]

Film critic Top Ten lists[edit]

Various critics have named the film as one of the best of 2013.[32]

Home media[edit]

Captain Phillips was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on January 21, 2014.[33]


Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
BAFTA Awards[30][31] Best Film Nominated
Best Director Paul Greengrass Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Barkhad Abdi Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Billy Ray Nominated
Best Cinematography Barry Ackroyd Nominated
Best Original Music Henry Jackman Nominated
Best Sound Nominated
Best Editing Christopher Rouse Nominated
Casting Society of America[34] Big Budget Drama Francine Maisler, Donna M. Belajac Nominated
71st Golden Globe Awards[28][29] Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Best Director Paul Greengrass Nominated
86th Academy Awards[5][6] Best Picture Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Billy Ray Nominated
Best Film Editing Christopher Rouse Nominated
Best Sound Editing Oliver Tarney Nominated
Best Sound Mixing Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munrod Nominated
AACTA International Awards[35] Best Film Nominated
Best Direction Paul Greengrass Nominated
Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Actor in a Supporting Role Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Best Screenplay, Adapted Billy Ray Nominated
Best Editing Christopher Rouse Nominated
American Cinema Editors[36] Best Edited Feature Film - Dramatic Christopher Rouse Won
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases Barry Ackroyd Nominated
American Film Institute[37] Top Ten Films of the Year Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Scott Rudin Won
Art Directors Guild[38] Excellence in Production Design - Contemporary Film Paul Kirby Nominated
Black Reel Awards[39] Outstanding Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi Won
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance - Male Barkhad Abdi Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Most Promising Performer Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Cinema Audio Society[40] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing - Motion Picture - Live Action Chris Munro, Michael Prestwood Smith, Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Al Clay, Howard London and Glen Gathard Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society[41] Best Director Paul Greengrass Nominated
Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards[42] Outstanding Direction - Feature Film Paul Greengrass Nominated
19th Empire Awards[43] Best Film Nominated
Best Thriller Nominated
Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Director Paul Greengrass Nominated
Best Male Newcomer Barkhad Abdi Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Awards[44][45] Actor of the Year Tom Hanks Nominated
Supporting Actor of the Year Barkhad Abdi Won
Director of the Year Paul Greengrass Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards[46][47] Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects & Foley in a Feature Film Oliver Tarney Nominated
Best Sound Editing: Dialogue & ADR in a Feature Film Oliver Tarney Won
Online Film Critics Society[48] Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Dramatic Movie Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society[49] Best Picture Nominated
Best Director Paul Greengrass Nominated
Best Actor in a Leading Role Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Screenplay - Adaptation Billy Ray Nominated
Best Film Editing Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards[50] Best Theatrical Motion Picture Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society[51] Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Billy Ray Nominated
Best Editing Christopher Rouse Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Best Editing Christopher Rouse Nominated
Satellite Awards[52] Best Motion Picture Nominated
Best Director Paul Greengrass Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Billy Ray Nominated
Best Sound (Editing and Mixing) Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, and Oliver Tarney Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[53] Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Tom Hanks Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Barkhad Abdi Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association[54] Best Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Billy Ray Nominated
Best Scene The scene near the end of the film when Phillips is being checked out by military medical personnel and breaks down. Nominated
USC Scripter Award[55] USC Libraries Scripter Award Richard Philips, Stephan Talty, Billy Ray Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[56] Best Adapted Screenplay Billy Ray Nominated

Historical accuracy[edit]

Capt. Phillips was held captive in the lifeboat by pirates for five days.

In a New York Post article, some of the crew members of the Maersk Alabama accused the film of being inaccurate in facts and the portrayal of Phillips, claiming that Phillips was not as heroic as the film depicts him.[57]

Mike Perry, the chief engineer of the Maersk Alabama, also asserted in a CNN interview that the film does not tell the true story.[58]

The film's director Paul Greengrass publicly stated that he "stands behind the authenticity of Captain Phillips," despite complaints of inaccuracy with how the film portrays the events surrounding the hijacking, and "at the end of the day, it is easy to make anonymous accusations against a film [...] but the facts are clear [...] Captain Phillips' ship was attacked, and the ship and the crew and its cargo made it safely to port with no injuries or loss of life [...] That's the story we told, and it's an accurate one."[59]

Phillips' first mate Shane Murphy stated in an interview with Vulture published on October 13, 2013 that he was satisfied with how the movie portrayed both Phillips and himself, and stated that he was only disappointed that the film didn't show footage of the crews' families at home or the president's comments on the hijacking.[60]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b c "Captain Phillips (2013)". Box Office Mojo. October 1, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Paul Greengrass film to open New York Film Festival". BBC News. August 1, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Daily Mail Reporter (April 20, 2012). "Tom Hanks climbs aboard to film Captain Phillips biopic in which he's captured by Somali pirates". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Nominees for the 86th Academy Awards". AMPAS. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Oscars 2014 Winners: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. March 2, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Mission Essential Recalls Its Pivotal Role in The Alabama Hijacking, As Seen In "Captain Phillips"". Mission Essential. October 11, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Lombardo, Tony (11 October 2013). "Sailors share screen with Tom Hanks in 'Captain Phillips'". Springfield, Virginia: Gannett. 
  9. ^ Archived from the original on April 5, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Fleming, Jr., Mike (March 15, 2011). "Tom Hanks Poised To Play Capt. Richard Phillips In Somali Pirate Saga". Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ Sneider, Jeff (June 8, 2011). "Greengrass offered Somali pirate pic". Variety. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  12. ^ Seavert, Lindsey (October 8, 2013). "4 Mpls. men co-star in Tom Hanks film 'Captain Phillips'". KARE. Gannett Company. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ Maersk Alabama Lifeboat and Mk 25 Sniper Rifle from “Easter SEAL Rescue” | National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum
  14. ^ The actual lifeboat from Maersk Alabama is now at the SEAL Museum[13]
  15. ^ "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): Scan Eagle | National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum". Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  16. ^ ""Captain Phillips" is a retelling of the headline grabbing events". Studio System News. March 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  17. ^ Lombardi, Ken (September 28, 2013). "Tom Hanks, the real Captain Phillips attend N.Y. Film Festival premiere". CBS News. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  18. ^ McCabe, Robert (October 9, 2013). "Norfolk's Maersk hosts preview of 'Captain Phillips'". Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Sailors share screen with Tom Hanks in 'Captain Phillips'". Navy Times. 11 Oct 2013. Retrieved 12 Jan 2014. 
  20. ^ "Henry Jackman Scoring Paul Greengrass' 'Captain Phillips'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  21. ^ "'Captain Phillips' Soundtrack Announced". Film Music Reporter. September 20, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Captain Phillips (2013) – Song Credits". Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  23. ^ Cox, Gordon (September 28, 2013). "New York Film Festival: 'Captain Phillips' Premieres to Enthusiastic Reception". Variety. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 
  24. ^ Bailey, Jason (September 27, 2013). "The Gripping 'Captain Phillips' Redefines Tom Hanks - Again". Flavorwire. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Ten films to watch at the London Film Festival". BBC News. October 8, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Captain Phillips (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Captain Phillips Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b "Golden Globes Nominations: The Full List". Variety. January 11, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  29. ^ a b "Golden Globe Awards Winners". Variety. January 12, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "Bafta Film Awards 2014: Full list of nominees". BBC News. January 8, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  31. ^ a b "Bafta Film Awards 2014: Full list of winners". BBC. February 16, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ Uno, Lori Taki (21 January 2014). "Oscar nominees 'Captain Phillips,' 'Blue Jasmine'". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  34. ^ "Casting Society Unveils Artios Film Nominees". January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  35. ^ Kemp, Stuart (13 December 2013). "'American Hustle' Dominates Australian Academy's International Award Noms". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  36. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 10, 2014). "'12 Years a Slave,' 'Captain Phillips,' 'Gravity' Among ACE Eddie Award Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  37. ^ "AFI Awards 2013". American Film Institute. December 9, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Art Directors Guild Nominations Announced". The Hollywood Reporter. January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  39. ^ "12 Years a Slave" Breaks Free". Black Reel Awards. February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  40. ^ "Cinema Audio Society Noms Zig Where Others Zag". Variety. January 14, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  41. ^ Long, Tom (December 9, 2013). "Detroit Film Critics Society nominates top films". The Detroit News. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  42. ^ Jacobs, Matthew (January 7, 2014). "Directors Guild Awards Nominate Steve McQueen, Alfonso Cuaron, Martin Scorsese". The Huffington Post. AOL. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  43. ^ "The Jameson Empire Awards 2014 Nominations Are Here!". Empire. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  44. ^ "London Critics' Circle Announces 2014 Film Awards Nominations". London Film Critics Circle. December 17, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2014. 
  45. ^ "12 Years a Slave gets pre-Oscar boost at Critics' Circle Awards". BBC. February 2, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  46. ^ Walsh, Jason (15 January 2014). "Sound Editors Announce 2013 Golden Reel Nominees". Variety. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  47. ^ "'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' lead MPSE Golden Reel Awards nominations". HitFix. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  48. ^ "The Online Film Critics Society Announces 17th Annual Awards". Online Film Critics Society. December 9, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  49. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics Society 2013 Award Nominations". Phoenix Film Critics Society. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  50. ^ "2014 Producers Guild Awards Nominations". Rotten Tomatoes. January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  51. ^ "San Diego Film Critics Nominate Top Films for 2013". San Diego Film Critics Society. December 10, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  52. ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 2, 2013). "Satellite Awards: '12 Years a Slave' Leads Film Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 
  53. ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 11, 2013). "Screen Actors Guild Awards: '12 Years a Slave' leads Screen Actors Guild nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  54. ^ Stone, Sasha (December 9, 2013). "The St. Louis Film Critics Nominations". Awards Daily. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  55. ^ "USC Scripter Award Nominees Unveiled". February 9, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  56. ^ "The 2013 WAFCA Awards". Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. December 9, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  57. ^ Callahan, Maureen (October 13, 2013). "Crew members: 'Captain Phillips' is one big lie". New York Post. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  58. ^ Griffin, Drew (October 8, 2013). "Maersk Alabama crew criticizes 'Captain Phillips' movie". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  59. ^ "Paul Greengrass Stands Behind 'Captain Phillips' Accuracy - '100 Percent'". TheWrap. October 18, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2013. 
  60. ^ Watkins, Gwynne. "Talking With Captain Phillips's Real-Life First Mate, Shane Murphy". Vulture. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 

External links[edit]