Pirates of Somalia
Starring Evan Peters, Barkhad Abdi, Melanie Griffith, Al Pacino
Not all true stories are created equally. Pirates of Somalia takes a unique series of recent events, turning them into a motion picture and the first lead role for X-Man Evan Peters. Sure, Al Pacino appears on the marketing and throughout the trailer, but hopefully audiences are smart enough to recognize he is just shown for marque value and has little screen time and effect on the plot. Peter’s inhabits a role that would seem more suited for Jesse Eisenberg, Emile Hirsh. Still Oscar nominated Bryan Buckley’s film is of interest, it’s just not very entertaining. Buckley earned his credibility on a short film, but this might have worked better in that format.
Jay Bahadur was just another uneducated, pot head, living in Toronto with his family in 2008. He wants to be a journalist, do something that matters, but he can’t even get out of his family’s basement. He becomes acquaintances with retired local writer Seymour Tolbin (Pacino), who encourages him to pursue a line of work, other journalists shy away from. Jay heads to Somalia, where no other news outlets are willing to send reporters. He’s the only person writing first-hand about the pirate situation captivating the news. With little to no journalistic experience, he begins talking to locals, officials and eventually some of the most dangerous pirates in the area. When the story of Captain Phillips occurs, Jay is in country and becomes the most knowledgeable intelligence for North America.
Peter’s might not have the acting capacity to really make this film exciting, but the script gets overwhelmed with details.
Peter’s might not have the acting capacity to really make this film exciting, but the script gets overwhelmed with details. There are moments of great interest, but the films editor doesn’t know how to trim the fat from basic scenes of information. Twice the narrative relies on animated sequences to explain factors not in the budget. This film is ambitious, but it’s extremely limiting with Peter’s in a small town talking to various people for two hours. Oscar nominee Abdi (Captain Phillips) is one of the film’s highlights. While the actor isn’t stereotyped as a pirate this time, he continues to prove he has something to offer the world of cinema.
Pirates of Somalia starts to feel a bit like The Last King of Scotland, just without the budget or the grand performances. What works here is the focal point of a loser who leaves his parents’ home on a gamble of becoming something greater. Obviously that notion pays off or we wouldn’t be watching a film about it. At two hours there isn’t enough material in this story to sustain interest. Buckley tells a story and he gets all the points across, but he needed to find more elements to keep the audience sustained, even if it meant taking historical liberties.
An interesting true story without the expertise behind or in front of the camera to make it great.