Based on a 2012 Sundance-winning short, the Somali pirate flick "Fishing Without Nets" more readily invites comparisons with the Oscar-nominated "Captain Phillips."
"Fishing Without Nets" recounts a fictitious ship-hijacking entirely from the Somali perspective, recalling expository scenes in "Captain Phillips" in which we see the Somalis' home life and the extent to which piracy is one of a very few options for survival. This new film does little to expand on the subject.
Abdi (Abdikani Muktar) comes from a long line of fishermen, but his nets have been coming up empty in part because of ocean pollution. With his wife and young son fleeing the war-torn country, Abdi rejects his own better judgment and agrees to help a group of pirates navigate the sea. They soon overtake an oil tanker with no cargo and realize their hostages are the only valuables onboard.
Although director and co-writer Cutter Hodierne tells the story from the pirates' viewpoint, he adds no more dimension to them than the one we saw in "Phillips." If anything, he doubles down on the clueless, disorganized, irrational and hubristic caricatures that eventually developed in that other film. The "Fishing" pirates are so frustratingly ineffectual there's a mutiny.
Resembling more of a European art film than an American indie, "Fishing" mercifully doesn't incite the kind of root-for-the-Americans simplicity that "Phillips" ultimately did. But "Phillips" director Paul Greengrass is a far superior filmmaker, and he at least delivered on urgency and suspense.
"Fishing Without Nets."
MPAA rating: R for violence, language, drug use and brief sexual images.
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.