Tag Archives: Barkhad Abdi

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

PIRATES OF SOMALIA

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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Captain Phillips (2013) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Billy Ray (screenplay), Richard Phillips (based upon the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea”)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman

Sometimes a movie will come along and you won’t go near it initially. There is no reason for this other than erm… nah. Four years later I watch Captain Philips and my initial thought is Why did it take me so long to watch this true story about Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the U.S. flagged MV Maersk Alabama?

Interestingly enough this was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Now for anyone who hasn’t watched this thinking there is a chance this may be a real life version of “Under Siege (1992)” think again. There is very little action in this movie, “Captain Phillips” is in actual fact a tense physiological thriller.

Tom Hanks portrays Captain Phillips and comes across as a methodical and meticulous individual which I suppose in his position he has to be. Whilst reading about pirate threats in the waters they are sailing in on route to their destination off the coast of Africa he begins to think that practise drills in the event of a mutiny wouldn’t be a bad idea and having the crew ready.

Whilst practicing these drills Phillips notices an unusual movement on the radar and quickly realises pirates are on their way. The thing I like about the Captain is he never breaks away from procedure and believes taking the necessary action and preventions should be enough to keep these pirates at bay. In fact, that’s exactly what happens the first time as the pirates fail to conquer and can’t keep up with the cargo ship.

Phillips and the crew know that that isn’t the end and begin to plan for the next attack. It isn’t long before the pirates are back and more prepared to climb on board the ship. After failed attempts by the crew to water cannon the pirates off the boat, Muse (Barkhad Abdi) declares himself the new captain and along with his pirate crew take control of the ship.

There is a desperation to Muse and his crew and this stems back to the troubles the people of Somalia endure and pressure from their bosses to succeed in their mutiny. Barkhad Abdi’s character switches between a man in control and confident to a confused and troubled man. Mostly this has to do with Captain Philipps managing to get in his head and Tom Hanks is brilliant and delivering his dialogue at the right moment and the right tone in these scenes to “derail” the initial plans of the pirates in diversions and stalling tactics.

Unfortunately after a series of arguments and brawls the pirates decide to take Captain Phillips hostage on one of his own life boats. This is where I think the movie excels as a physiological thriller. One man in a confined space unarmed against four pirates on edge with guns awaiting a ransom from the US Government.

Over the course of the next hour of the movie it is interesting to see Phillips get in the head of the youngest of the pirates who injured his foot on board the Cargo Ship and the Captain is willing to help the boys injury. For the audience members we understand what he is really doing is trying to split the group mentally and show he isn’t a threat to them and in fact tried to find them an easy route out of this mess without anyone getting killed in the process.

The Action flits back and force between the US Navy and the Pirate ship as negotiations between the parties for the safety of Captain Phillips begins. If I had a slight niggle about the character of Phillips it would be from what I read he was mentally tortured for long period of times in the real life situation. In the movie none of that is really evident apart from a few moments of anxiety from Tom Hanks. The physiological aspect of the final third is more like a slow game of chess, which in turn adds to the suspense and the negotiations are very cagey as Max Martini who portrays the SEAL Commander is the voice between the Navy and the Pirates and does a stern job of being in control of the situation and adds to the intensity of the situation also.

For anyone who hasn’t watched “Captain Phillips” I won’t ruin the ending but what I will say is that the climax to the movie and the ending is emotionally draining. Tom Hanks rarely disappoints and here is no exception. From beginning to the end his portrayal of the Captain is grounded and real. There are no obvious heroics but a subtle bravery from this man who all the time was thinking of the well being of his crew and to an extent the pirates also.

Cinematically the movie is very close to the actors and a lot of the shots are close up of their faces and the emotions running through these characters is obvious to see. Director of photography Barry Ackroyd manages to capture some beautiful shots and along with the films editor Christopher Rouse know how to intensify a scene with the timing of each scene. Henry Jackman is perfect to add atmosphere with his beautiful score and with an impressive CV in the MCU, X-Men and the Kingsman you can see (or is that hear) it was a no brainer.

Overall “Captain Phillips” could have been an over the top action movie based on real life events. Thankfully this movie hit all the right notes as far as I’m concerned and my experience of the film was engaging, enthralling and emotional. I highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t watched it yet. I can see why it was nominated for 6 academy awards. Highly Recommendable.