Jumbled 'Last Hijack' focuses on a wholly unsympathetic figure

'Last Hijack,' a documentary about Somali pirate Mohamed Nur, is disjointed

The documentary "Last Hijack" combines live action and animated sequences to present the dubious life of Somali pirate Mohamed Nur.

The banditry that imperils lives and trade in the waters off East Africa already has been chronicled in documentary and fictional films, including "Captain Phillips," "Stolen Seas" and "Fishing Without Nets." Disjointed and unfocused, "Last Hijack" adds precious little to this body of work.


Chubby, round-faced Mohamed may have a roguish charm, but he's an amoral scoundrel who leaves the children from his previous marriages to be raised by his parents while he wheels and deals, trying to organize a hijacking as if it were an ordinary business venture: "So we got a job to do." He even has the gall to complain, "Now everyone is against us." Well, everyone opposed to theft, kidnapping and murder.

Filmmakers Femke Wolting and Tommy Pallotta use the animation to present scenes from Mohamed's childhood, when he saw tribal wars tear Somalia apart — and watched his self-righteous father rob travelers. A recurring image of Mohamed metamorphosing into a mighty eagle that seizes ships in its talons feels inapt. He's not a criminal mastermind, just a two-bit thug who more closely resembles a vulture.

A far more interesting subject for a documentary turns up in "Last Hijack": Abdi Fatah, a crusading journalist who risks his life using a Somali radio station to discourage young men from following Mohamed's illegal trade. But Wolting and Pallotta show only brief clips of this admirable figure, preferring to waste the audience's time with pointless scenes of Mohamed getting haircuts and buying various articles for his new bride, who keeps her promise to divorce him when he returns to piracy. Viewers will endorse her decision.


"Last Hijack."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.

Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.