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"A Hijacking" is in theaters now.
Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Jul. 14, 2013 4 years ago

FILM REVIEW: 'A Hijacking'


The new film, "A Hijacking," presents a disturbing commentary about bottom lines. When human lives are for sale, will a corporation put profit above morality? Adrenaline levels soar as the answer plays out in this quietly riveting thriller.

Somali pirates have commandeered a Danish cargo ship in the Indian Ocean. The corporation that owns the vessel has a CEO who is well-known in the international community for being a slick negotiator. The pirate's ransom demand for the seven crew members is $15 million. CEO Peter (Soren Malling) counters with a mere $250,000. He's attempting to establish who's in charge.

But as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, conditions on the ship become unbearable. The ship's cook, Mikkel (Pilou Asbaek), tries desperately to convince Peter (via phone and faxes) that the pirates are growing weary of the protracted negotiations and will soon murder them all. Peter's confidence begins to wane under the pressure as he realizes the fate of these human beings is dire. Going against the stance of the corporate board, he decides to leverage with his heart rather than his head.

Director Tobias Lindholm ("The Hunt") cuts back and forth from the ivory tower of the Copenhagen office to the filthy confines of the cargo ship. It serves as a constant reminder of the vast divide between those in control and those who have none whatsoever. That emphasis is at the heart of this psychological exercise. Who's really the enemy? Is it ruthless pirates or corporate conglomerates with little regard for anything except profits?

"A Hijacking" plays out on the screen like a time bomb, slowing ticking. There's a language barrier between the hostages and their captors that creates a tension of misinterpretation possibly going horribly awry. There are brief moments of camaraderie onboard, one celebrating the catching of a fish, but they're suspect and fleeting. A scene in which Mikkel is forced to slaughter a goat is so heart wrenching it's difficult to erase the memory of having witnessed it.

Lindholm also wrote the excellent screenplay. It's a refreshing change not to have robots or Navy Seals storming in and saving the day. The cerebral cat and mouse games played in "A Hijacking" are far more thought provking and shocking than in some American thrillers. Perhaps it's a Scandinavian thing ... whatever, bottom line, it's a breathtaking 99 minutes.

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