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hijacking, pilou asbaek, søren malling, thomas lindholm

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Old 19th May 2013, 14:09   #1
ono no komachi
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Default A Hijacking

A Hijacking is a film by Thomas Lindholm, also responsible for Borgen. I've not seen Borgen, but if at any point it does the rounds again on BB4, I'm going straight to Series Record on the basis of this movie.

The movie starts at a sedate pace aboard the Rozen, a Danish freighter with a tiny crew, with the focus on the ship's cook (a remarkable performance by Pilou Asbaek). The audience gets a bit of context as we then shift to the oil company's head office to see the CEO (Søren Malling – fans of The Killing know him as Jan Meyer) ruthlessly and successfully negotiating a deal to his precise satisfaction.

The Rozen is then captured by Somali pirates. They're predictably terrifying, treating their captives roughly but not, it seems, inhumanly – at least at first. The oil company employs a professional hostage negotiator (played by Gary Porter) who is authoritative, but leaves some room for doubt – does he really have definitive knowledge on the best way to play this game?

CEO Peter defers to the professional's judgement initially, but insists on being the point of contact for negotiations. The genius of the movie is in the restraint with which events are played out. At times it's possible to believe you are watching a documentary, so quietly convincing are the head office scenes, and Gary Porter's performance is so apparently lacking in artifice that I found myself wondering if the producers had employed in a fictional role, an actual hostage negotiator.

The gleaming chrome and glass in Denmark provides more and more of a contrast with the squalid conditions on the ship. At times, as the hostages gain small concessions from their captors, you wonder if this whole scenario will be resolved without too much human suffering. This makes the emotional blows, when they come, all the more ferocious.

And at every step of the way, the humanity of Asbaek's performance as Mikkel Hartmann, the cook, has you feeling every blow, every shock, every trauma, and even though Søren Malling's CEO seems genuinely affected on the 'other side', you get a real sense of how little he knows about the suffering his people are undergoing.

I found A Hijacking a pretty intense experience. I'm not sure I can recommend it as entertainment, but as a masterclass in tension-building, I can't think of much that comes close.

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