It’s France, 1996 and I’m seven. The Wilson family – Mum, Dad, Hannah and I, plus our closest family friends The Fairests are in France camping and the weather has been utter shite. At one point we’d been to the Super U and had to wade through the flooded car park back to our cars. So naturally, the most sensible thing for my Dad, Hannah and I to do was book ourselves onto a deep sea mackerel fishing trip.
Now, my memory is a little jaded as I was only seven. But, I do remember very clearly the drama that unfolded on that trip….
Early morning we went to get the transport link to the fishing boat and surprisingly no alarm bells rang when we were hauled in a transit van with a big hole in the floor. Zooming along the French roads, we could see the slippery surface beneath our feet. At the port we were directed to an old rickety fishing boat – the authentic experience! It’s probably important to point out here that we’d been on these trips a couple of times before and Hannah and I really enjoyed them, my Dad wasn’t dragging us along to something that he wanted to do. So, shortly after, there we were, out at sea in the middle of day. Casting our lines and catching a pathetic amount of mackerel. It was fun! Loads of photos were taken and there was a lot of nodding and smiling with the crew.
All of sudden and what seemed to be as quick as a second, rain was gushing down. This was no ordinary rain, it was monsoon rain. The kind of rain that is like standing in a power shower or having a bucket of water thrown over your head. Realising the severity of running into a storm at sea in our boat, the crew quickly ushered us inside the small undercover body of the boat and presumed that it would pass. IT DID NOT PASS. It go worse. A lot worse. The boat was thrown all over the place and the waves were getting drastically bigger. As mentioned in a previous post (The Call), my dad the king of calm, grabbed both Hannah and I and held us each side of him as tight as he could. I remember very vividly him telling us that it would be OK and not to worry – this by definition means that he was actually very worried and not sure if it would be OK. Shortly afterwards the crew gave up trying to get the water out of the boat and in fear of falling overboard locked all of the doors onto deck. Obviously petrified, one of the the crew members sat on the bench opposite us, made the sign of the cross, looked up and began to pray in French. He then lay down with his eyes closed, mumbling and began to cry.
Now what happened next, I don’t remember too clearly but I know that were were there for a long time and it was shit scary.
Then, all of sudden just as quickly as the rain started, it stopped. The sun came out and a huge black cloud was lifted from our boat. I’m not quite sure how close we were to going down but I felt a huge sigh of relief from my Dad and since the incident he’s told me that he thought it could have been the end.
Back on dry land, thankfully my Mum was oblivious to what had happened. Needless to say that we haven’t been mackerel fishing since and I have no idea if we ate that day’s catch…
Captain Phillips is based on a true story, of a 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. A heavy suspense filled thriller the story sees Phillips (Tom Hanks) as the captain of the vessel who is held hostage by the pirates and their captain (Barkhad Abdi). The story evolves into the standoff between the Somali pirates and Hanks’ rescuers which reaches a climactic breaking point.
Hanks is extremely good in Captain Phillips. It would be surprising if he wasn’t nominated for an academy award. The last ten minutes are a masterclass in acting and, not only is Hanks brilliant, Abdi is arguably even better. The performances from both actors are brilliant.
The film’s suspense is on another level. If you don’t feel sick with worry in this film, you’re not human. And, you might feel sick anyway due to being at sea for two or so hours.
It’s enjoyable and even though there are few locations and characters, it carries itself well. In the middle, there’s editing that could have been done and interest levels in the plot drop. But, they pick up again so stay with it. The last ten minutes tug so hard at your heart strings and the story being so unusual, have we seen a Somali pirates film before?, adds an element of mystery and intrigue. Add in the true story aspect (although there has definitely been some Hollywoodisation here) and you have a hit.
Even though the subject is hard hitting and you could cut a knife through the tension – the script in part is funny. Abdi at one point says ‘I love America’ which sparked a huge reaction with the UK audience so surely the Americans will enjoy this irony…
Ultimately, the story forces you to enter a moral maze and despite all of the wrong doings on the surface, you side with both the Somali pirates and the ship crew in their individual ways. No doubt it’s a pro-American movie but hey, that’s where the money comes from and it puts bums on seats.
When: Monday evening, October 2013
Why: The buzz around this film has been huge and who doesn’t like a Hanks survival story?
Where: Cineworld, Wandsworth, Screen 4