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Captain Phillips Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Pirates, minus the fun swashbuckling Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    Even as Greengrass’ signature kinetic style renders us nearly seasick and emotionally spent from the action, it’s the work of Tom Hanks that makes this film unforgettable.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Variety Scott Foundas

    There is something too dry and austere about Greengrass and Ray’s telescoped vision, which touches only fleetingly on the pirates’ motives, the suffering of the Somali people and the collateral damage of global capitalism.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The film succeeds on its own terms — an exciting entertainment that makes us feel good about the outcome, and about the reach of American power, rather than its limits. Yet the narrative container is far from full. There isn't enough incident or complexity to sustain the entire length of this elaborately produced star vehicle.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    The film rips right along and never relinquishes its grip.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The climactic rescue by Navy SEALs is riveting. But it's Phillips' devastating after-the-fact shock that leaves the most haunting impression in this ambitious, taut and captivating thriller.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Captain Phillips works precisely because Hanks isn't a muscle-bound, gun-toting figure (nor does he turn into one during the course of the movie). Placed in an untenable position, he uses guile and intelligence instead of brawn and weapons to enhance his survival chances.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 13 & under

Nail-biting story of ship hijacking is fabulous but intense.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Captain Phillips is an intense drama based on the true story of an American cargo ship that's hijacked by Somali pirates. Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, the Bourne films) is known for his visceral depictions of action-packed violence, and Captain Phillips is a real nailbiter with extended scenes of suspense, menace, and violence. There is lots of blood, but just a few casualties -- none of them civilians -- but the camerawork makes the danger -- usually death threats facing a machine gun -- feel personal. Language includes a few uses of "s--t"; the Somalis often chew khat, a plant that's a stimulant; and characters smoke cigarettes as well.

  • Families can talk about the movie's use of violence. Is the violence necessary to depict the true story? Could it have been less violent and still evoked the same intensity?
  • How does the filmmaker's use of camerawork and editing emphasize the sense of danger and violence?
  • What is the movie's message about the Somali pirates? Are they depicted purely as villains or as more complicated characters? Why do you think they do what they do?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The movie has a global message about how terrorists aren't the only threats, and that poverty can also be a powerful enemy to peace and civilization. The movie also applauds Captain Phillips' ability to bravely and calmly be a selfless leader who cares more about his crew's safety than his own. There's also a message that despite differences in culture and circumstances, there's a shared universal humanity.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Captain Phillips is selfless and willing to sacrifice his safety to ensure the safety of his crew. Captain Phillips remains brave and clear-headed during unbelievably grim circumstances. He remains mostly calm and level-headed with the Somalis in order to protect his crew and later to buy himself time. Muse, the head Somali, is fascinating, because he is doing what he has to do for his village, even though it's dangerous and morally wrong. He genuinely believes he won't have to hurt anyone, just ask for the ransom and wait for the money. Many of the crew members rise to the occasion to fight the pirates.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Camera angles bring you up-close to the threats and intensity of the violence. The Somali pirates are heavily armed with semi-automatic machine guns that are usually pointed at the American civilians. At several points it seems like the Somalis are going to kill one of the Americans (usually Phillips). The military gets involved and plans a SEAL mission to try and save the captain, and they have instructions to take out his captors. One of the pirates is a teenager who is seriously hurt when he steps on shattered glass. Phillips is severely beaten. One bullet to the head results in blood/brain spatter on the wall.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not applicable

  • language false2

    Language: A few uses of "s--t" and "piece of s--t," two "a--hole"s and one "ass." There is also "damn," "goddamn," and some threatening language.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Toyota Sienna, Sony computer.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The Somalis, including one teenager, chew a great deal of khat, a plant that is known for being an amphetamine-like stimulant. While it's a controlled substance in the U.S., it's legal in Somalia. Adults smoke cigarettes.