Saloum 2022 Movie Scene Yann Gael as Chaka and Roger Sallah as Rafa holding a meat cleaver about to go on a quad bike

Saloum [2021]

Saloum is a movie that just blew me away. It’s creative, authentic and most of all, refreshing. We will be following three experienced mercenaries whose latest mission is to transport a drug lord to Dakar, Senegal. However, they will run into trouble almost immediately, and then things will start to get worse and worse. The first thing you’re going to notice about Saloum is its stunning visual quality. Some of the scenes reminded me of Villeneuve’s Dune, complete with an atmospheric soundtrack. And they didn’t have millions of dollars or Hans Zimmer.

Jean Luc Herbulot, the director of this movie, made a lot of music videos and I’m guessing this is where he honed his skills. We will come back to this towards the end but for now let’s focus on the movie. Making the most of the stunning Senegalese landscapes, it also features an authentic story. It plays like a modern western with strong horror and action elements. As you can see, Saloum has a lot of things going on. This makes storytelling feel a bit loose at times but overall it maintains a rather high level of quality.

And it does come full circle, explaining everything and tying up all the loose ends. This always gives me a warm feeling in my tummy, especially when you consider how many other movies just fizzle out toward the end. On top of all of that, we have three phenomenal and charismatic as fuck leads. Roger Sallah, Yann Gael, and Mentor Ba were destined to play these roles. I would also like to mention Evelyne Ily Juhen playing Awa as she also gave one hell of a performance.

Bangui’s Hyenas are a mercenary organization consisting of three veterans of many battles. They find themselves in Guinea-Bissau amid the 2003 coup trying to smuggle a Mexican drug lord out of the country. Their final destination is Dakar but when their airplane starts losing fuel, they will have to make an emergency landing in Saloum. A place that holds many dark secrets…

And while the story does sound like a classic movie set in Africa (who said Blood Diamond?), I assure you it is not. Saloum shows a different face of Africa, not shying away from the ugly past but more importantly continuing forward not burdened by it. And this is where I want to share a personal experience that I had a couple of years ago with you. I was watching this music channel, Trace Urban, and they had an African hits playlist on.

The music videos were excellent and very catchy. However, what struck me the most was the mood that was so exciting and vivacious. And then I realized that I was brainwashed by decades of news reports, documentaries, and movies about Africa. They emphasized the worst things about it and when they talked about the good stuff it felt fake and condescending. These young artists smashed through that wall with force and creativity.

And I hope that this Senegalese movie, Saloum will do the same. It’s not the first African movie we talked about on Rabbit Reviews. We have Revolt, starring Lee Pace, and also The Dead, following a zombie outbreak in Burkina Faso and Ghana. Finally, among one of the higher-ranked Movies about Ants, you will find The Bone Snatcher. It takes place in the Namibian desert and features some of the same themes you will find here. 

Director: Jean Luc Herbulot

Writer: Jean Luc Herbulot, Pamela Diop

Cast: Yann Gael, Evelyne Ily Juhen, Roger Sallah, Mentor Ba, Bruno Henry, Marielle Salmier

Fun Facts: The gun featured in the poster for Saloum and the gun Chaka uses in the movie is a modern chrome version of Remington Model 1858.


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