Tom Hanks plays Richard Phillips, captain of a container ship sailing from Oman around the Horn of Africa for Mumbai. Off the coast of Ethiopia, “pirates” – actually, just four armed villagers – board the ship and take control, in order to get money from the shipping line’s insurance carrier. The sailors fight the pirates and get control of the ship back, but the pirates take Captain Phillips hostage when they escape on a lifeboat. Eventually Navy SEALS arrive and rescue Phillips, taking the leader of the Ethiopians into custody and killing the rest.
There’s not much subtext to this film, though there is an effort to create understanding and compassion for the pirates, who are just poor villagers being influenced, through their fear, by another level of criminals.
This movie triggered lots of fear for me, of having my space invaded, of angry men, of guns, physical violence, and of being surrounded by people in anger and fear.
I saw it with my husband and a friend, who both enjoy movies about violent conflict where the “good guys” “win.” My husband strongly values the ability to defend himself physically, and our friend is involved in law enforcement and national defense. I was feeling rather smug and superior to them, when I realized that both our friend’s wife and MYSELF are in lots of fear and are addicted to being protected and kept “safe” by our men. So although she and I avoid this kind of movie and judge our husbands for enjoying them, we are actually feeding a load of emotion into supporting our husbands’ fear-based responses to violence.