A face is given to the seldom news figures of Somali pirates, and the film leaves you wondering who is the real victim.
Review (with Spoilers)
This is another one of those films I skipped while it was in theaters since, honestly, I wasn’t really looking for a film which would have had a one-dimensional African, specifically Somalian, villain the same way the Russians and Chinese have been villains in action movies for decades. But, with Tom Hanks in the film and there being praise for co-star Barkhad Abdi, I gave into temptation. And honestly, while Hanks may have been the main draw, I left a bigger fan of Abdi’s.
Characters & Story
The focus of the movie is Richard Phillips (played by Tom Hanks) who is an America ship captain, who is working around the horn of Africa, and meets a young Abduwali Muse (played by Barkhad Abdi) who meet in less than cordial circumstances due to Muse being a pirate trying to take over Phillips’ ship. However, despite him coming off as a bad guy, Muse seemingly is a victim of circumstance. Where he lives there isn’t any such thing as social mobility and the effects of globalization has taken a toll on any type of life he could have. Fishing can’t really be done for the larger, and financially more powerful, nations have basically wiped that option, and being that his area is dominated, and controlled, by an unseen organization that harasses Muse’s village, the only option is to be a pirate to make money and keep his people fed and safe.
But, when these two meet, though Muse tries to be as nice as possible. He even giving Phillips the nickname “Irish.” However, being that Phillips knows procedure and considers himself, and his crew, smarter than Muse and his crew, you see Phillips try to play a game with them in which, quite a few times, his ego leads to him getting assaulted, among other things. But, despite Phillips actions, Muse tries his best to keep him alive so he can get the ransom money and go home, but with Phillips complicating matters, Muse ends up damn near in a life or death situation quite a few times.
As you may note by the story summary, and intro, I liked Abdi’s depiction of the character Muse, and the reason for that is that when you watch the trailer for the film, you foresee some sad depiction of Somali pirates which you think are going to be as shallow as other foreign nation villains going against an American. But, being that this is based on a true story, of which seemingly Phillips wasn’t the only one kept in mind, Muse is allowed to be a human who may seem greedy, a pirate, and etc., but as you get to know him enough to understand that he sees his options as limited and he, to Phillips’ face, reminds you that his country isn’t America. You are reminded there is no, pull yourself up by the bootstraps or any of those things Americans, if not the western world as a whole, take for granted. For people like him, you either fight until someone dies or do as you are told. Making it so, despite Phillips technically being the victim, I found Muse to more so be the one who I felt bad for. Even without him not necessarily shedding any tears.
When it comes to criticism, like most films based on true stories, there is an issue with time length. Part of the reason I had an issue with the time is because after a while you can assesses Muse and his friends and you can see, while desperate, they aren’t really trying to do more than get their money and go. Thus bringing the amount of threat to Phillips, as well as his crew, to a nil and making it where all there are, for the most part, are bullets shot in the air. Then, to add onto that, Hanks just doesn’t command your attention in the film despite being the protagonist, and makes it so you just stop caring about him and his character.
Overall: TV Viewing
Quite honestly, though I like Abdi’s performance in the film, and hope more comes his way in terms of roles, the movie as a whole was boring. Once you realize that the pirates are amateurs, Phillips has more control over the situation than them, and then they aren’t willing to fully assert themselves, the film seems like a Looney Tunes film with Hanks playing a smarter version of Elmer Fudd and everyone else being Daffy Duck. Thus making this a TV viewing type film.
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