It’s hard to dislike a good caper movie, and Pirates is just that. When three close friends from North London reunite to celebrate New Year’s Eve in 1999, you know only misadventures lie ahead.
Cappo (Elliot Edusah) has been off at university and returns to his North London neighborhood for the break to rejoin high school best friends Two Tonne (Jordan Peters) and Kidda (Reda Elazouar). He’s nervous to tell them he doesn’t plan on coming back after university. Still, he’s excited to spend a night in with his friends, that is until Two Tonne tells a girl he likes that they’ll meet her at a exclusive party in South London. And so the journey begins, a quest to find tickets and then make the long trek to the other side of London.
The film opens with our three leads in sharp, colorful suits dancing and hamming it up. It sets the tone for a film that aims to be equal parts silly, funny, and heartfelt. The three leads have great rapport and chemistry and its easy to believe they’ve been friends for years. As it should for a film set in 1999, the cultural references are spot on, from an Arsenal bruised banana kit to Two Tonne trying to sweet talk an ex-girlfriend by quoting Backstreet Boys lyrics at her to Kidda getting distracted by playing Snake on his phone. The only jarring aspect for Americans is their thick North London accents, requiring closed captions if available.
Like many “friends go on an adventure over one night” films, the core of the film is the relationship between the three guys. So much of the film is about the ease and silliness of youth butting heads with adult responsibilities. How do you balance where you’re from with where you want to go? It’s clear that Cappo, having been away at university, feels that his friends and neighborhood are his past. But maybe this night with his friends can remind him that he doesn’t have to choose between the two. That’s also part of getting older, realizing that most things aren’t black and white. There doesn’t have to be harsh partitions between your past and your future. As Two Tonne reminds Cappo, “we ain’t stuck here, we’re from here.”
Pirates is a fun period piece about three North London lads making their way to a party on New Year’s Eve 1999. Its familiar elements are assembled in an extremely watchable way, with low-stakes misadventures, themes of growing up, and genuine chemistry between the three leads. It’s a fun time capsule that reflects what so many went through when they went off to college.