Barkhad Abdi

REVIEW: ‘Captain Phillips’ Sails the Clash Between Two Worlds that Share One Planet

There are many reasons to praise Paul Greengrass’ likely Oscar-contender Captain Phillips, but chief among them is it brings to the forefront the largest obstacle facing mankind as we struggle to reach global equilibrium: The fractious binary nature of developed versus underdeveloped cultures and the geopolitics that arise from that schism. Other films, particularly those chronicling hyper-modern America’s ongoing war with ultra-medieval Islamism, have been set amidst this clash, but none benefit from the intimate, empathetic dynamic between Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his antagonist, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). It’s a dynamic that nails on a visceral level how complex and unresolvable — at least in the foreseeable future — certain cultural polarities are.

Based on the true story of the MV Maersk Alabama’s hijacking in 2009 off the coast of Somalia, Captain Phillips is already generating controversy for overlooking the eponymous hero’s most egregious mistake: