Captain Phillips Not The Hero We Thought?‏

Reported by Zac Platt.


Paul Greengrass’ latest movie Captain Phillips has been getting a lot of praise among critic circles. Based on true events, the film tells the story of Captain Richards Phillips (played by Tom Hanks), who in 2009 had his ship boarded and was taken hostage by a group of Somali pirates looking for a ransom. Tense, believable and with some of the best Hanks there has been for a while, we were big fans of the film. But, according to the crew of Maersk Alabama, the real Captain Phillips was hardly the hero the film made him out to be.

After speaking with a handful of anonymous members of the crew, the New York Post have published an article that posits the Captain as an arrogant and sullen man who didn’t at all take the threat of pirates seriously. If there is any quality the film ascribes to Phillips, it’s his fastidiousness in preparing the crew and his ship for the dangerous waters they were to traverse, but according to the crew he ignored the constant warnings of piracy as well as the anti-piracy plans detailed by the International Maritime Organization. “He didn’t want anything to do with it, because it wasn’t his plan,” says a member of the crew.

When the first attack took place Phillips was putting the crew through a fire drill (not a security drill as shown in the film). “We said, ‘You want us to knock it off and go to our pirate stations?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, no, no, no — you’ve got to do the lifeboats drill.’ This is how screwed up he is. These are drills we need to do once a year. Two boats with pirates and he doesn’t give a s- -t. That’s the kind of guy he is.” Chief Engineer Mike Perry alleges that he and other officers believed Phillips had a perverse death wish, putting everyone on-board in danger as he refused to be influenced by the abundance of ships being attacked and taken hostage all around them.

Tom Hanks

Ultimately, there are two sides two every story, and it’s very possible that rattled members of the crew are looking for someone to blame. But whether or not Phillips was the man the movie made him out to be, the film’s dismissal of the crew is very difficult to forgive. Portrayed almost as antagonists to Phillips’ resolve in the first act, they are seen as being lazy and ungrateful whiners who go crying back to their unions when they don’t get their way. Given that their complaint was that they were (legitimately) frightened for their lives and just wanted Phillips to chart a safer (though perhaps less cost-effective) course, it’s a bit harsh that Greengrass tells the audience to roll their eyes when the crew speaks up.

Since the attack Phillips has met the President, written a memoir and had a major motion picture label him a hero. 11 members of the crew have sued Maersk Line and the Waterman Steamship Corp. alleging a “wilful, wanton and conscious disregard for their safety”. Phillips, as you can probably guess, is a witness for the defence.

Source: New York Post

Title Picture: Parade

– Z.P.

  • It’s a film. It’s why they say “based on real events”. Real life is boring, it has people watch tv and doing the dishes. Although if my character was portrayed as a whiny over opinioonated,gassy old man for all the world to see I’d by p!ssed too