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Family Movie Review: Captain Phillips (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13         Length: 134 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. The film tells the real-life story of Capt. Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates trying to hijack his container ship. Cursing, tension, and violence—Phillips is attacked and beaten up; the hijackers sport bloody wounds on their feet and hands; and the finale, with Navy SEALs facing off against the Somalis, ends in a lot of blood. May be too tense or traumatizing for younger teens.

Director Paul Greengrass brings his documentary-like approach to the real story of Capt. Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009. But while the film benefits from very strong performances, it slips by falling too far into action-movie territory toward the end.

By Roxana Hadadi

Making very realistic films about real-life things is director Paul Greengrass’s thing. He did it with “United 93” about the hijacked United Airlines flight on Sept. 11, 2001, and he did it with “Green Zone,” about the U.S. military trying to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And so it goes with “Captain Phillips,” his latest dramatization, focused on the Somali pirate kidnapping of American Capt. Richard Phillips in April 2009. But as much as the film benefits from strong performances by Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi, it ultimately feels disconnected, distant, strangely clinical. It is emphatic to the challenges faced by both the Somalis and Phillips, but when the movie becomes a saved-by-the-SEALs actionfest in its final act, it turns cold.

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