Captain Phillips – Movie Discussion




These movie discussions are intended to help you connect your Christian faith to the modern world by:

1.  Helping you learn to see echoes of redemptive truth all around you.

2. Challenging you to help other Christians see that their relationship with Jesus cannot be confined to church but must invade our every activity…even our movie-watching.

3. Equipping you to speak Christ into culture by pointing out entry points for significant discussions with non-believers.  Many non-believers won’t accept an invitation to come to church, but they will talk about a movie they’ve seen recently…so we want to help you turn that conversation into an eternally significant discussion.



Captain Phillips is about the real life story of Captain Rich Phillips who was taken hostage by Somali pirates after they attacked his ship.  It’s a fantastic, intense story of bravery, of sacrifice, of two different worlds colliding.  It’s also a great connection to the life of Jesus.

The Captain is conscientious.  He is aware of the dangers they are facing, going around the Horn of Africa, and he works hard to prepare his men.  He tightens security, makes the crew practice safety drills, challenges them to be aware of the dangers and not be so slack in their work ethic.  He is vigilant, and that vigilance pays off time and again.

It’s because of his leadership and cunning and calm composure that the pirates end up deciding to leave the ship, taking only the money from the safe (thousands of dollars, as opposed to the millions they are used to scoring off a hit), and a hostage—Captain Phillips.  He didn’t want to go, granted, but he was always prepared to offer himself to protect his crew.

His sacrifice of himself for his crew is a clear connection to Jesus who ransomed himself for mankind.

Then, when he was with “the enemy,” Captain Phillips did something extraordinary—he saw them.  He didn’t see them as enemies or as his captors, but as people.  He began to try to find out “Why?”  Some of them were just kids.  What drives a person to a life like this?  Why wasn’t it enough for them to take the $30,000 he offered and just leave?  Two of them were injured, yet they insisted on staying the course.  Why?  Rich Phillips saw the pirates with the eyes of compassion.  These weren’t bad people so much as they were desperate people.  They were desperate to survive and to survive, they only had two options:  fishing and pirating.  Unfortunately, due to the big commercial and international fishing boats that came into their waters, fishing was not much of an option anymore, so that just left pirating.

Seeing people for who they are and why they are, not just for what they do—that’s something Jesus would do.  It’s something He did do.  Remember Zacchaeus?  The woman at the well?  The Woman caught in adultery?  Need I go on?

More than simply see the pirates with compassion, Captain Phillips began to act with compassion.  One of them cut his foot on some broken glass.  Rich Phillips pleaded for permission to wash and dress his feet.  He was so careful with him, so loving and caring.  Rich washed the feet and cared for the wounds of his enemies.  He showed more compassion for the young pirate than the pirate’s own friends did.

Jesus washed feet.  He washed his disciples’ feet.  He washed his enemy’s feet, too.  He knew that one of his disciples had planned to betray him, and yet he washed his feet every bit as lovingly and carefully as Rich Phillips did his captor’s…I dare say even more so.

Rich tried to warn the pirates.  He knew that this wouldn’t end well.  He knew that the navy wouldn’t negotiate with them.  He knew they would never get their ransom money, never make it back to Somalia—not unless they set Rich free, cut their losses and go.  But they wouldn’t.  They were determined to see it through, confident they would get millions.  Rich certainly was trying to save his own life in the process, but he also seemed to care for these poor men.  He didn’t want to see them die.  He did what he could to set them free, they wouldn’t listen.

Jesus never acted in any way to save His own life, but He did do all He could to save ours.  He knows the reality.  He knows that there is only one way this ends well for us.  He knows that there’s no negotiation.  He knows that the only hope is that we give our live to Him, accept Him as our savior.  If we trust Him with our life, we live.  If we don’t, we die.  It’s that simple.

In the end, the crew lived because they trusted Captain Phillips and did as He said.  The Pirates, however, didn’t trust him, didn’t do as he said, as he pleaded with them to do—and they died.

In the end of our lives, the outcomes will be just as black and white.  I love how the Old Testament puts it:

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Deuteronomy 30:  11-20

So what do you choose?  Will you be the crew or the pirates?  Do you choose to save your life?  Then you must follow Jesus.

Questions for Discussion:

  • How do you think you would feel about all of Captain Phillips’ rules and strictness if you had been one of the crew?  How did they seem to respond?  Do you think they felt differently about the Captain (and his vigilance) after they knew the pirate attack was real, not just a distant possibility?  How might that translate to your feelings about the Bible and its “rules”?  Do they seem unnecessary?  What might change your perception of them?
  • What do you think you would feel for your enemy if you were in Captain Phillips’ position?
  • How do you think the various pirates felt about Captain Phillips?  Why might their opinions of him differ?
  • Do you see a connection between Captain Phillips and Jesus?
  • The crew lived because they followed the Captain.  The pirates died because they wouldn’t listen to the Captain.  According to the Bible, the same can be said of those who follow Jesus and those who don’t.  What do you think about that?  Are you more like the crew or the pirates in regards to Jesus?
  • What might have happened t make one of the pirates change their mind and listen to the Captain?  What might it take to make you change your mind and listen to Jesus?

 by Stacey Tuttle

Click here to read a collection of Quotes from Captain Phillips.