A Hijacking

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a hijackingIt’s nice to go see a movie about pirates, and not have to watch Johnny Depp channeling Keith Richards. These are the Somali pirates you often read about, and they’ve seized a Danish ship and its crew. We then get two perspectives – the rich and powerful CEO trying to negotiate, and the ships cook. He’s immediately called into service to prepare food for the pirates. Oh, and his English skills help with the negotiations (as well as the fact that he has a wife and child, which ups the urgency ante).

Perhaps some people watching this will feel like captives as well. You see, this isn’t about a lot of machine gun fire. Bruce Willis and Stallone aren’t going to be part of SEAL Team 6 and do some shoot-out rescue. And I preferred it this way. It made it much more realistic, and there was still plenty of tension.

I just thought they foreshadowed too much, and the script was ridiculously predictable.

There are a few little flaws I had with how the CEO was portrayed. I can use an example that reminds me of a complaint I just told somebody I had with Safe House. They loved it, and specifically mentioned how Denzel Washington could get into anyone’s head with his mind games. I laughed and replied, “They said that in the movie, but if you remember…he never got into Ryan Reynolds head. He also didn’t get into the head of the first guy protecting him. That guy just told him to “shut up” when he started yapping. Reynolds only listened to Washington once he realized he was right. My complaint being – if a movie sets up some premise, they need to follow through properly.

In this picture, they start us off with a CEO that has a tough demeanor in negotiations with a Japanese company. He was able to get the price he wanted, after a colleague failed. Well…nothing about the negotiation was impressive. The Japanese offered a price, he offered a lower price. When they said they couldn’t take it, he said “okay” and started to walk out the door. The Japanese quickly relented. That scene showed me very little. And I’m still not sure if they were trying to show the CEO as a jerk for talking down to his colleague afterwards in his office.

There’s another scene at the end of the movie that I find disgusting. I won’t give it away, but it involves various characters we had watched in the movie. And they want us to have this hatred towards this capitalist society the world lives in. Oh come on! When you’re this blatant about sending us a message, it takes me out of a film that was a real nail-biter much of the time. Save that stuff for a Michael Moore “documentary.”

Pilou Asbaek has the perfect face and facial expressions as the cook. I loved how he tried so hard to be engaging to the pirates, but his fear and everything else just made it so uncomfortable to watch him with these thugs.

Abdihakan Asgar, as the head pirate Omar, isn’t just a cliché villain that chops off your hand if you don’t do what he says. He has a few mind games of his own that were rather effective.

Soren Malling was fine as the CEO, showing just enough anger boiling up to the surface. I’m guessing most people will be shocked by the low figures he’s counter-offering to the pirates. Those are the folks that weren’t paying attention when the red-headed hostage negotiator came in and explained the best course of action for company. I’m just a bit confused as to why they started with $250,000 when the pirates asked for $15 million.

It was interesting that this movie could have such a sense of urgency in things you’d never even considered during a kidnapping/hijacking.

The use of natural light was most effective, and the fact that there was no gratuitous violence was a good choice. You get enough tension when an angry Somali pirate puts a machine gun to your neck because you’re not understanding what meal he wants you to cook – or just because he wants to toy with you for his own amusement.

The movie has been out for a few weeks already, but I had missed the press screening. Yet when I was speaking with Anders Wright, the critic at the Union-Tribune I greatly admire, he was saying it was one of his favorite movies of the year. That was good enough for me.

The movie is getting raved reviews, so the fact that I was a tad disappointed shouldn’t persuade you from not seeing it at the Landmark.

I’m giving it 2 ½ stars out 5.

Anders Wright gave it 4 stars.





  • Ben S

    I am not that familiar with Lindholm's work as he has only directed 2 films (R back in 2010 and now A Hijacking). Considering that this film is in Danish with English subtitles, I don't think I could sit through the it without being distracted having to read what is being said. This movie doesn't seem like it will be a blockbuster hit in light of the weak reviews it has been getting thus far.

  • N.M

    I said the SAME thing Ben S! I saw a great inde film 7 years ago called The Science of Sleep which was a French film (with English subtitles) and as much as I loved the film I couldn't get past having to constantly read what was being said. I never again went and saw another movie with sub titles for that exact reason!

  • Mark Stewart

    Curious. Is this movie based on actual events? There have been numerous stories on the news over the last few years and was wondering if they scripted this one off one of those.

  • joshboardfox5

    Why do people hate subtitles so much? It really doesn't take away from anything at all.
    Mark — apparently it does. One critic, Scott Marks, was telling me that it angered him a scene they put at the end of this movie, since it didn't happen in the real event this was based on (although it did add a good amount of drama to the film). I guess I don't mind reading subtitles, but I DO MIND reading the words "based on true events" because they say that with everything (often times, with very little actually based on the "real events" of the story)

    • Mark Stewart

      Im not too fond of subtitles either. Your eyes are more fixed on the text rather than other important things such as expressions on actor's faces, the surrounding area (where plot of the movie is centered), other relevant scenes that go on in the background etc. You miss alot of the movie. Voice overs with English is probably worse. Ill watch an occasioal movie with subtitles but again its not the same.

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