39 user 29 critic

The Pirates of Somalia (2017)

1:35 | Trailer
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.


Bryan Buckley


Bryan Buckley, Jay Bahadur (based on the book "The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World" by)





Credited cast:
Evan Peters ... Jay Bahadur
Al Pacino ... Seymour Tolbin
Melanie Griffith ... Maria Bahadur
Barkhad Abdi ... Abdi
Philip Ettinger ... Alex
Coral Peña ... Katlyn
Russell Posner ... Jared Bahadur
Darron Meyer ... Mitch Kelp
Aidan Whytock ... Agent Brice
Mohamed Hakeemshady ... Ancient Warrior (voice) (as Hakeemshady Mohamed)
Robert Hobbs ... Navy Admiral
Kiana Madani ... Tracy Ziconni
Alok Tewari ... Kailash Bahadur
Lindsay Sullivan Lindsay Sullivan ... Canadian air hostess
Jojo Gonzalez ... Jojo


In 2008, rookie journalist Jay Bahadur forms a half-baked plan to embed himself among 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.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A true story of courage, ambition and blind luck. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout, drug content, and brief strong violence. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Almost all of the actors in the Somalia scenes are actual Somalian refugees. See more »


Jay Bahadur: I am scared, Abdi. Shit, man, I mean, there's no other way... I hope you understand that.
Abdi: This is the path you choose as a man... It's not for me to understand.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits identify the many Somali refugees in the cast and crew with the year they became a refugee. See more »


References Captain Phillips (2013) See more »


Written by Randy 'Badazz' Alpert (as Randy Badazz Alpert), Deric Angelettie (as Deric Michael Angelettie), Andy Armor (as Andy W. Armer), Sean 'Diddy' Combs (as Sean J. Combs), Ron Lawrence (as Ronald Lawrence) and The Notorious B.I.G. (as Christopher Wallace)
Performed by The Notorious B.I.G. (as Notorious B.I.G.)
Courtesy of Bad Boy Records
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Contains a sample of "Rise"
Written by Randy 'Badazz' Alpert (as Randy Badazz Alpert) and Andy Armor (as Andy W. Armer)
See more »

User Reviews

It's chill way to spend two hours with a movie, and the acting is very human and natural
18 March 2018 | by kaptenvideo-89875See all my reviews

Ah, Somalia... where is it again? There's a new movie for every- or anybody willing to learn something about this African country famous for having been an major commercial centre in antique period, and, er, its pirates gaining international fame during the 2000's.

Or they might have been just local fishermen protecting their livelihood from illegal fishing by foreign trawlers, depending on who you ask.

As the title strongly suggests, "The Pirates of Somalia" is about those fishermen. It's based on actual events taking place mostly circa 2009, and actually has two stories in one.

The smaller story - mostly the beginning and the end - is about this American dude (Evan Peters) who wants to become journalist after college but can't get work. So he decides to do something noteworthy and travels to Somalia to write a book about its pirates.

This section plays out like typical youth comedy: dude fighting with parents who would like to see him doing something with his life, instead of living in their basement, smoking marijuana with friends, hanging out with this funny old man (Al Pacino) who likes cigars and drinks.

The dialogue feels pretty fresh and the general vibe is good. I enjoyed the unexpected little surprises such as the the character of pothead friend who's actually pretty smart, the foul language in TV news...

Also, Evan Peters is a likable leading dude, unpretentious but informed and eloquent, nerdish but charming. Think along the lines of Jesse Eisenberg and Emile Hirsch, and you might get the picture.

The bigger story is about him living in Somalia, socializing with the locals and trying to get interviews from pirates. All this is harder to describe because writer-director Brian Buckley has wanted to show life as it was, and not offer some packaged or ready-to-go entertainment connected to a specific genre.

He has dived right in the middle of Somalian everyday life and avoids typical cliches about Africa, as far as I can tell.

Yes, there are some goats walking on the streets, people living in slums, a lot of men carrying guns in public, etc. But the style is not hollywood-ish at all. People are just people, and most of the time, nothing big and exciting happens. Even the witty dialogue has been left back home at the U.S.

This simple and humane approach is "Pirates's" main strength but also it main weakness. Because for a near two hour movie, we see pirates but not exciting about them, and there's actually not much to learn about the local life too.

I did not get the general sense of what the people do all day every day, or even what the dude does (I can deduce he was writing for some of the time, and doing local drugs for fun, but then what?).

I know I am supposed to judge what the movie for what it is, not what it isn't. But it's still kind of funny that a story trying to give us deeper understanding about Somalia never really explores or explains what makes its people tick, or the pirates.

Well, it's still pretty chill way to spend two hours with a movie, and the acting is very human and natural, both by professionals and the locals, almost all of who are played by actual Somalian refugees.

In the central role is this Barkhad Abdi - nominated for Golden Globe and Oscar for 2013's "Captain Phillips" (where he played Somalian pirate). On American side, we also have some former stars like Melanie Griffith and Al Pacino.

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Somalia | Kenya | Sudan | South Africa | USA


English | Somali

Release Date:

8 December 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Pirates of Somalia See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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