CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is an examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. When the Alabama's commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), and his crew spot pirates approaching, they alert the authorities and try to fend them off. But with no security or guns on board, they're soon overtaken.
The head pirate, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), takes over the ship and declares himself captain. Captain Phillips, who has ordered his crew to hide, offers him all the money from the safe, but the pirates want more. They search for the crew, and when they don't find them, they threaten Captain Phillips. Set on an incontrovertible collision course off the coast of Somalia, all involved find themselves paying the human toll for economic forces outside of their control.