Captain Phillips, review

I finally got around to watching ‘Captain Phillips’ today.

I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. Likely an 8, but I’ll need to watch it again and catch details that I’m sure to have missed.

The US Navy was presented very professionally. There was none of the ‘all-singing-all-dancing elite ninja bullshit’ that Hollywood normally goes in for. Just low-lit ops rooms and all emotion kept in check. Just as it should be.

The USS Truxtun (DDG 103) stood in as a filming location for fellow Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), but the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Halyburton (FFG 40) played herself in the movie.

Aerial surveillance photo of the USS Bainbridge while apprehending Somali pirates, via ScanEagle UAV.

The Maersk Alabama was portrayed in the film by her sister-ship the Alexander Maersk and the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean (shout out to Malta!) stood-in for the pirate-infested waters of the Horn of Africa.

At anchor at Mombasa,Kenya during FBI investigation after the hijacking. Via shipspotting.com.

Tom Hanks delivered a tight performance as Captain Rich Phillips. That restraint is what made the emotion at the end of the film very believable. He’s got two Academy Awards. This could earn him a third.

Solid performances from the actors portraying the Alabama’s crew. No gung-ho Chuck Norris b/s and chants of “USA! USA!” which would have made the flick unbearable. Just a solid portrayal of sober professionals and a frank portrayal of the true threat that pirates present. That merchant mariners take these risks every day is remarkable. And frightening. And should make you thankful that they do.

Which brings me to the pirates, and particularly to Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the hijack leader. (1) Showing us Somalia early-on as an utter toilet was a piece of genius. Yes, they’re pirates, but now we know how and why. (2) If Barkhad Abdi doesn’t win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor then there is no justice in Hollywood. His performance was incredible. He brings pathos to a character that could otherwise be a two-dimensional cartoon “bad guy.” Muse is doomed from the outset. And he is aware of his doom. Which is utterly tragic. As is, of course, Somalia.

Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, Somali hijacker leader.

Go and see it. Definitely recommended.

Royal Navy signs £30m contract for Boeing ScanEagle reconnaissance drone

UK warships on operations will benefit from a surveillance craft capable of flying for 24 hours, under a £30m ($47m) contract to Boeing Defence UK Limited signed by the MOD.

ScanEagle UAV leaves its launcher. Crown Copyright 2013.

The ScanEagle will be launched from the deck of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships by day or night to provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).

ScanEagle UAV in flight. Crown Copyright 2013.

The ScanEagle is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Boeing subsidiary Insitu. In service with the US military since 2005, the ScanEagle is also operated by the Royal Navy, the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Canadian Army.

Specifications:
Crew: none on-board (unmanned aerial vehicle)
Length: 3.9 feet (1.19 meters) ()
Wingspan: 10.2 feet (3.1 meters) ()
Loaded weight: 39.7 lbs (18 kilograms) ()
Powerplant: 1 × 3W 2-stroke piston engine, 1.5 hp
Maximum speed: 55-80 mph
Endurance: 20 + hours
Service ceiling: 16,000 feet above ground level (4,876 meters)