Review: A Hijacking

3 Jul

 

 

 

 

Ike2Well, if you want to know EXACTLY what it is like to be taken hostage on a Danish freighter in the Indian Ocean–have we got the movie for you!

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWith off-the-charts verisimilitude, Danish writer-director Tobias Lindholm toggles back and forth between shipping executives in Copenhagen and their ship off the coast of Somalia as negotiators spend months trying to work out an agreement with Somali pirates.

Ike2And when he says off the cost of Somalia he doesn’t mean off the coast of  “Somalia.” We’re talking about the actual Somalia.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationThat’s right. The conference calls between negotiators were apparently actual satellite calls filmed simultaneously in both locations. Of course, it seems to me they could have achieved the same effect if the ship had been anchored off the coast of Spain or–I don’t know–Denmark–but, hey, I’m not a genius auteur of Danish cinema.

Ike2I think it had something to do with the flies. European flies just don’t cut it.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWell, I didn’t see anything special about the flies, but there certainly were a lot of them. Supposedly, the director would lock his cast in small rooms for hours with hundreds of buzzing flies to make sure they were in the proper frame of mind for their scenes.

Ike2The proper frame of mind being miserable. After watching this movie I felt like I had sweated through five months of Somali summer–and I don’t even sweat!

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationSo the director may be a bit obsessive, but the film’s naturalism goes beyond the flies and sweat and annoying speaker-phone echoes–the dialogue, the performances, everything is so real and natural the film comes across almost as a documentary at times. But make no mistake, it’s a very carefully crafted drama.

Ike2The build-up is s-l-o-o-o-w, but the tension cranks up to the point that I wanted to crawl under my seat during the climax.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWhich is set up beautifully early in the film, and which you will see coming, which only makes it all the more excruciating to watch.

Ike2One thing I liked about the movie is Danish people speak a lot of English.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationEnglish is the international language of business and hostage negotiation, apparently. So yeah, if you’re subtitles averse, this is a foreign film that won’t tax your reading skills. But it’s definitely European in its sensibilities. It will be interesting to compare it to the upcoming Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips, which is about the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.

Ike2I’m guessing one difference will be a VERY HEROIC leading man.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationNot to mention a VERY DRAMATIC hijacking sequence. Interestingly, Lindholm’s film skips over a number of scenes that an American director would be fired for omitting, like a lot of the anguished family stuff.

Ike2Yeah, you miss it at first, but then you realize you get it without having everything shoved in your face. Except doughy, sweaty, Danish sailors, of course.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationIt’s a real primer in economical filmmaking, although I thought it worked against the film in a couple of scenes in which I was so preoccupied with where we were in the narrative that the dramatic impact of the moment was lessened.

Ike2And speaking of doughy, sweaty sailors, Pilou Asbæk was great as the cook, Mikkel. So was Søren Malling as the cool-on-the-outside, explosive-on-the-inside shipping company president.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationAnd don’t forget Abdihakin Asgar as the pirates’ hostage negotiator. His mixture of sophistication, pathos, and brutality keeps the emotions churning.

Ike2And Blorg Blorgison as Sigir the Herring Wrangler added much-needed comic relief.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationHa-ha, we get it–the Danes have funny names. One other thing we should mention. The title, A Hijacking, is significant, because one of the points of the film is that this is just one of many hijackings, that they have become so common that there is a protocol to be followed–that must be followed–to get a good resolution. All your emotions scream, “Get those guys out of there at any price!” But the reality is that you can’t always buy your way out of the situation.

Ike2Yeah, it’s hard to imagine that an American film won’t really hammer away at the hard-hearted choices the corporate negotiators have to make.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWhich is one thing I like about A Hijacking. It makes you think without trying to tell you what to think.

Our Review:

Slow but riveting build to climax.

Naturalistic and human.

Great performances.

Doughy, sweaty.

In limited release.

Four-and-a-half tail-wags out of five.

Advertisements

One Response to “Review: A Hijacking”

  1. Clyde, aka Serena's keeper July 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    What about the goats, man?!!! Not one word about the slaughter of the goats? And you call yourself an animal lover. Just so you know, Serena and I wept openly during that whole scene. The sad thing is Serena later pointed out that, without thinking about it, I get my daily vittles from the slaughter of some poor, defenseless animal, and that what happened to the goats is a lot like the process that results in cheeseburgers, fried chicken, hot dogs, pizza, and on and on, for most of us. Sad, too sad to think about, if you think about it. So I won’t think about it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: