THE HERO OF CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
film review by Michael Chasin Screenwriting Mentor, IAFT/Miami
Movies are about heroes.
Heroes—give us reasons to care about them.
Heroes—are placed in impossible situations.
Heroes—display courage in defeating their more powerful opponents.
Captain Phillips is about the 2009 hijacking of an American merchant ship by Somali pirates, with Phillips portrayed by Tom Hanks.
Phillips is introduced leaving his comfortable home and driving in his SUV to the airport.
The other ‘Captain’ in Captain Phillips—is Somali pirate Muse.
Muse is introduced in his shack in his poor village under the control of a cruel crime boss.
Phillips has to deal with his lingering-on-coffee-break crew—and does so with a remark.
Muse has to deal with a larger, bullying, rival hijacker—and does so with a wrench.
Phillips navigates the high seas in a high-tech, colossal American freighter.
Muse and three others hijack the freighter from a motorized rowboat.
Phillips separates from his crew—who then, without him, act courageously.
Muse keeps command of his crew—and overcomes set-backs.
Muse—despite ourselves—is a character we care about.
He is a victim—of poverty, a crime boss, and a bully.
He is an expert at his impossible task—hijacking a modern ship.
He is smart and courageous—and compassionate—in dealing with his enemy.
Muse is proactive. Phillips is reactive.
Movies—even based on real events—must make the hero—heroic.
Captain Phillips could have been so much more—if Captain Phillips—was a hero.