Al Pacino Weekend – Pirates of Somalia (2017) Movie Review

Director: Bryan Buckley

Writer: Bryan Buckley (Screenplay) Jay Bahadur (Book)

Starring: Al Pacino, Evan Peters, Melanie Griffith, Barkhad Abdi, Philip Ettinger, Coral Pena, Russell Posner

Plot: In 2008, rookie journalist Jay Bahadur forms a half-baked plan to embed himself with the pirates of Somalia. He ultimately succeeds in providing the first close-up look into who these men are, how they live, and the forces that drive them.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Pirates of Somalia starts as we meet struggling journalist Jay Bahadur (Peters) who believes he has his path set after graduating with nothing planning on the way he had hoped. Jay ends up having a chance meeting with retired journalist Seymour Tolbin (Pacino) who teaches him the new wave of journalism.

Jay sees the story in Somalia, taking a chance, he ends up getting a chance to work under the president’s son to learn about the pirates of Somalia and how they operate, with his translator Abdi (Abdi) who is still torn between the new ways and the old.

Thoughts on Pirates of Somalia

Characters – Jay Bahadur is the narrator, this is his story of finishing college in 2008 and realizing there isn’t the job opportunities he believed in his field of journalism, the highlight of his life in rejection letters and trying to do research on the napkin placement on shelves, back living in his parent’s basement with his high school sweetheart moved on with her own life. He meets one of his idols who advise him on the new form of journalism, which sees Jay putting his life on the line by going to Somalia to write a book about the pirates of the land and prove there is a lot more to the new developing country than the media shows. Seymour Tolbin is a retired journalist who offers Jay advice and connections to increase his chances of getting a story together. Abdi is the translator that shows Jay around Somalia teaching him about the culture keeping him safe during his time there. We do get to meet the different people who are considered pirates by the outside world, but live a different life once you are there.

PerformancesEvan Peters is front a centre of this film, he is the strongest part of the performances, because the fear he shows would be what was real, though he must show it while remaining strong. Barkhad Abdi is great once again as a Somalian guide this time, even with the previous role as one of the pirates under his belt. Al Pacino is more of a cameo like performance, by strong enough in the supporting role in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a journalist graduate that isn’t finding work in the US and ends up traveling to Somalia to see if he can learn more about the idea of pirates running the country and show the world the truth about the country. This story is based on the book the journalist wrote after returning, it does show how the culture shock wasn’t as big as he once thought, as well as the alarming lack of jobs for graduates in America. While nearly all the film focuses on his learning experiences in Somalia, it does show how the media and the outside world can always see a country before learning more about it before judging.

BiopicThe biopic side of the film shows how Jay couldn’t get much out of his life until he took a big chance with his story in Somalia, it is his journey, his encounters, his life, though it does only show that this was his last resort, with no backup plan for somebody who graduated with a journalism degree.

SettingsSomalia is the setting for most of the film, it does highlight how the country is still developing and has evolved to maintain itself.


Scene of the Movie – Meeting the pirates.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does highlight how reckless Jay was, with his life choice, no plans after graduating seems naïve.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at just how hard life can be once you graduate, but if you can tell a big story, you can make yourself a star.

Overall: Interesting Biopic.

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