Dangerous Waters: Is The Captain Inspired by a Real Criminal?

‘Dangerous Waters’ is an action-thriller film set in the unforgiving and dangerous sea where a young woman finds herself caught up in a fight for survival. Alma, a single mother, convinces her reluctant teenage daughter, Rose, to accompany her and her new boyfriend, Derek, on an adventurous boat trip. However, their vacation takes a menacing turn when a gang of criminals attacks the trio’s boat in the middle of the night. Thus, as Derek shows his true dark colors, Rose must take charge and find a way to make it out of this nightmare alive.

The film features Ray Liotta as The Captain in his final role before the actor’s unfortunate death. His character essays a fascinating screen presence, bringing a certain darkness to the narrative with his antagonistic ways. Therefore, given the criminal storyline that The Captain introduces in the film, viewers must be curious to know if his fearful seaside crimes have any basis in real life.

The Captain Is a Fictional Character With Realistic Crimes

No, The Captain from ‘Dangerous Waters’ is not based on an actual criminal. The film finds its origins as an original idea penned by Director John Barr, who worked on the screenplay alongside writer Mark Jackson. Therefore, the events that unfold within the story and the characters at the center of those events remain fictional details created in service of the plot.

Rose and her streak for survival helm the film’s storyline, inviting the audience to witness the horror and thrill of a sea trip gone wrong. As such, within this narrative, The Captain’s character, elusive and only known by his title, poses the perfect ultimate threat. While the film begins as a cautionary tale about Rose’s particular predicament, it evolves into a larger scale with The Captain’s introduction, whose crew is made up of notorious criminals.

Although the specifics of The Captain’s criminal career are left unexplored by the film, his involvement in mass human trafficking plays a monumental role in Rose’s story. Rose already holds a vendetta against The Captain for the part he played in her mother’s brutal death. However, once she realizes that the man has numerous young girls drugged and imprisoned on his ship, her hatred for the man exponentiates.

The same aspect of The Captain’s character— involving human trafficking at sea— unfortunately parallels a significant aspect of reality and brings attention to a real-life issue. According to Maritime Fairtrade, in the grand human trafficking global crisis, criminals transport thousands of victims across the ocean every day. The victims of these traumatic crimes often undergo massive physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

Due to the complications of the Maritime and shipping industry, the trade remains vulnerable to the potential of human trafficking, either with individual knowledge and intention or otherwise. In fact, the issue has reached such heights that in early 2024, Port Tampa Bay introduced a human trafficking prevention training program for their employees to combat the issues and bring awareness.

As such, through The Captain’s character, the film effectively broadens its horizons and diverts its narrative toward highlighting a harrowingly persisting social and criminal aspect of real life. For the same reason, the storyline his presence incorporates into this sea-based thriller remains reflective of reality even without direct connections to a real-life criminal. Nonetheless, since the man has no ties to an actual criminal, his character remains fictional in nature.

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