Both of the two new movies about Somali pirates, Fishing Without Nets (NR, 1 hr., 49 mins.) and Last Hijack (NR, 1 hr., 23 mins.), were completed by the time Captain Phillips hit screens at this time last year. But each offers a counter-narrative to the Tom Hanks picture, admirably balanced as it was, given its white-man POV. These films, now in limited release, focus wholly on the Somalis themselves. And although different devices are employed in their storytelling, they place piracy within the context of the famine, overfishing, and war that have scourged Somalia for decades — all without resorting to the bleeding-heart trick of excusing criminal acts because the criminals are from the Third World.
Fishing Without Nets is the better piece of pure cinema. It follows a fisherman (played by the soulful Abdikani Muktar) as he reluctantly joins a squad of mercenaries to seize the crew of a French oil vessel for ransom money. Cutter Hodierne, who won the best-director prize at Sundance, favors quietude and lyricism in his filmmaking, and a subplot about one of the hostages packs an emotional wallop. Last Hijack, a documentary, emphasizes the pain inflicted on a family by a husband’s involvement in piracy — and does so via sporadic animation. The sight of a mythical raven grabbing a ship with its talons is so provocative, in fact, that it seems more real than the straightforward doc in which it appears. (Also on iTunes and VOD)
Fishing Without Nets: B+
Last Hijack: B