Captain Phillips’ story is well-known, and not new. It was reported by every major media outlet as it played out dramatically over five April days in 2009.
For anybody who somehow missed this then, it's been repeated in every major media story about Captain Phillips the movie, directed by Paul Greengrass.
Tom Hanks is Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, a U.S. container ship with an unarmed crew that was hijacked by Somali pirates.
Hauling tons of cargo, including food from the U.N. World Food Program designated for Africa, the ship looked like a floating jackpot to the marauders.
Is it a jackpot with critics as well? Let's see what the reviews are saying ...
"When Paul Greengrass directs a thoroughly dramatic tale based on true events and Tom Hanks takes on the title role, you think you know what to expect. But just you wait — the piercingly realistic "Captain Phillips" will exceed your expectations." - L.A. Times
"Creating zigzag lines of screen conflict, Greengrass floods the moviegoer’s eye with enormous amounts of assimilable detail. Those gifts are on offer here too, but in a scenario lacking in suspense. You wait not for Phillips to be saved but for the young pirates to crack. They are four kids in a lifeboat against the world’s most powerful navy. What’s at stake is the boys’ doom, not the captain’s life." - Time
"Hanks and Barkhad Abdi are so compellingly matched that unlike with most thrillers, it won't be the action climax in Captain Phillips that'll stick with you. It'll be that aftermath, which gets at the emotional toll of terrorism in a way few movies have." - NPR
"Greengrass creates immediacy to the action that is unrivaled. This all culminates with a finale that hammers controlled chaos in the director’s signature ultra-realistic manner. This film is not a slow burn at all, but Greengrass manages to make this story as human as humanly possible amidst firestorm of suspense." - Fox News
"As for Hanks, his final moments are his best, as Phillips registers in an intensely personal way the cumulative effects of what he's endured. It's safe to say those moments will be what's remembered most from this movie, and for a long time." - Huffington Post
"Captain Phillips is a movie that insistently closes the distance between us and them, has a vital moral immediacy. There’s something so unforced about him that it can seem as if he’s not delivering a performance, just being Tom Hanks. This feeling of authenticity, however well honed and movie made, dovetails with Phillips’s gruff likability to create a portrait of a man trying to keep himself, his crew and his ship together even as the world he knew comes violently undone." - N.Y. Times
"Even as the event turns into an international incident involving multiple U.S. Navy vessels, Mr. Greengrass conveys the terrifying intimacy of the standoff between Phillips and his captors. The strict personal focus allows him to keep the suspense high even as the firepower imbalance between the pirates and the Navy warships grows." - Washington Times