The Pirates of Somalia Review

The Pirates of Somalia (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Bryan Buckley
Writers: Jay Bahadur (Book “The Pirates of Somalia”), Bryan Buckley (Screenplay)
Stars: Al Pacino, Evan Peters, Melanie Griffith, Barkhad Abdi

The Pirates of Somalia is based on Jay Bahadur (Peters) an amateur journalist who is struggling to make any headway in his field and comes up with the idea of providing an up close and personal look at the pirates on how they live and what has driven them.

There were two things I knew going into this film and I don’t mean spoilers. I knew Evan Peters and Barkhad Abdi wouldn’t disappoint and Al Pacino, although top billing would be used sparingly. I don’t mind admitting I was right on both counts. I have to say that I’ve always been a fan of Peters since I first saw him in “Kick-Ass” in 2010 as Dave Lizewski’s oddball geeky friend Todd. He would go on to impress me in various roles in the television series “American Horror Story”. I was surprised to learn that the actor turned 30 this year as he appears a lot younger than his years. Playing the role of Jay Bahadur impressed me because the part is a lot different to what I’m used to seeing him play. He does appear to still have some humour in The Pirates of Somalia but the role demanded a much more serious frame of mind in parts.

Barkhad Abdi again is someone I’m beginning to take notice of and ironically the other role I have seen him in was playing a Somalian Pirate in Captain Phillips as Muse in which I was very impressed by. Here though his role is very different and is the base and guy to go to in Somalia and in Jay’s case an ally. Playing the role of Abdi he speaks very decent English and Jay himself admits that he trusts Abdi. I haven’t yet saw the actor in Blade Runner 2049 as Doc Badger so I cannot comment on his performance in that role.

I mentioned earlier that Al Pacino was used very sparsely and this isn’t a bad thing. His role in this movie is to inspire Jay Bahadur to do something with his life and act on his instincts and forget going to study journalism and go and do it instead and get noticed. Melanie Griffith unchanged like Pacino is bit part and plays Jay’s Mother. Very limited and although in the past has impressed me isn’t in the movie enough to pass comment on.

I like Bryan Buckley’s Direction here as although this is a proper movie it does have a documentary feel to it (not in the way its shot) but in the way the dialogue is used in the movie gives it an interview feel due to the fact the main character is a journalist with a lot of questions. Buckley incorporates some random animation into the mix that I enjoyed and reminded me of an animated section in Tarantino’s Kill Bill but instead of Manga style cartoon, it reminded me more of music videos by The Gorillaz. I also didn’t have a problem with the slow pacing of the movie as it felt right to digest what was being shown on the screen at times and to be honest I found it an informative and entertaining plot that was put together well with the writing, the cast and the directing.

Don’t be fooled by the exciting title though. “The Pirates of Somalia” isn’t an action movie and I’m glad. Jay Bahadur experience of these events through a lens is pleasing and satisfactory and I’m also happy that his story has reached the public eye. The movie is enjoyable and the characters are developed enough for you to connect with them. I recommend giving the movie a shot.

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