Star Rating:

Last Hijack

Directors: Femke Wolting, Tommy Pallotta

Actors: Abdi Fatah, Mohammed Nura

Release Date: Friday 8th January 2016

Genre(s): Documentary

Running time: Ireland minutes

There have been a number of films and documentaries that have attempted to humanise the pirate. 2013 Danish drama A Hijacking refused to demonise the Somali pirate heading up the hijacking of a frigate and last year’s Captain Phillips’ opening sequence highlighted the financial strain that drives the pirates to the sea. Ditto 2012’s documentary Stolen Seas and 2014’s drama Fishing Without Nets. Docu-drama Last Hijack is another, exploring the whys and reasoning of Somali pirates. Told from the perspective of former pirate Mohammed Nura and his family, Last Hijack certainly muddies the waters between right and wrong.

Last Hijack opens with Nura on the shore securing a boat with guy-wires - he could be a fisherman preparing for the day’s work. But this scene morphs into animation and Nura is plucked up into the sky where he transforms into a bird, which then glides across the sea to a cargo ship. The giant bird swoops down and plucks the ship from the water and carries it back to the shore, tossing it down onto to the beach with a crash. These Waltz With Bashir esque sequences dot Last Hijack, filling in the blanks when a normally candid Nura isn’t forthcoming with information, and offer insight into a pirate’s thinking.

The documentary slips into drama territory when, breaking a promise he made to his new wife about never returning to piracy, Nura feels he has no choice but to plan another hijack. The banality of the planning astounds, as the gang of four round up weapons, bullets, First Aid kits and only enough fuel to locate a ship (if you have enough to return home, you will). How the money is divvied up (30% goes to the man who first spots the boat) and spent (women, hotels) is also explored. Incidentally, Nura’s new wife divorces him for breaking his promise.

But while it tries to understand Nura and why he does what he does, directors Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting, who directed remotely from a studio, aren’t afraid to show the fear the pirates are willing to strike into their fellow countrymen. Radio presenter Abdi Fatah seems to be on a one-man mission to hinder the pirates’ movements, broadcasting activity to passing ships. Two of his reporters, one of which was his brother, have been killed for helping him. In one chilling interview he receives a phone call from an unknown caller demanding to know where he is right now; Fatah coolly explains that he receives threatening calls like this every day.