Movie: A HIJACKING
Rating: R, language
Jeanne: "A Hijacking" is a grim and disturbing film, not just because of its unnerving subject matter, the takeover of a Danish cargo ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates, but mainly due to the overly predictable script. The phenomena of these despicable pirates hijacking defenseless crews, who are then held for ransom, is heinous, and still on-going. And though the acting in "A Hijacking" is superb, the film is strictly a "follow-the-dots" offering.
Mikkel Hartmann (Pilou Asbæk) is the cook aboard this ill-fated freighter. He is wildly anxious to get home to his wife, Maria (Amalie Ihle Alstrup) and daughter Kamilla (Amalie Vulff Andersen) in Copenhagen. He wears his wedding ring around his neck on a chain. When the ship is boarded by the hijackers, he removes the ring and hides it.
Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, the CEO of the Danish shipping firm which owns the
vessel, Peter C. Ludvigsen (Soren Malling), is in intense negotiations with the Japanese. We get it right away that this guy is a "take-no-prisoners" type, and he berates his underling, Lars Vestergaard (Dar Salim), for not being tough enough.
Predictably, when the company learns that their ship has been compromised, Peter takes over negotiating with the pirates, despite the strong urging of his paid advisor not to do so. He is warned not to become emotionally involved, and this guy is smug and arrogant enough to believe he can handle the task at hand without risking any potential fallout.
This is the problem with the film, written and directed by Tobias Lindholm --- everythng is foreshadowed and expected. We see every possibility coming from a mile away --- even the "shocking" ending, which really isn't so out of character for these money-grubbing Somalians.
The business of hijacking ships in the Indian Ocean is truly an ugly one. Here the ordeal takes place over a four-month period. In real life, many have gone on much longer. One simply cannot imagine what these crews and their families must endure, though we get a decent picture in "A Hijacking".
The corporate greed that delays the resolutions is infuriating. Peter is informed that this process will take time because you can't immediately give into these criminals, or they'll just ask for more. But, when asked for $15 million and Peter counter offers $250,000, you have to wonder what THAT strategy is all about.
And of course, Peter screws up and becomes overwroughtl with possible dire results.
Wow --- didn't see that coming. And of course, there is a requisite, over-the-top, mysogenist dismissal of Peter's wife, Anette (Linda Laursen), when she attempts to comfort him. We all know he messed up, but is it necessary to take it out on her? Why, because she's a corporate wife who has become used to her comfortable life and nice things? Did he not contribute to all of that? It's all so cliched ---.
Then, the wedding ring rears its ugly head. Poor Mikkel --- after all that he has been through, did he not realize that they were all at the mercy of these trigger-happy thugs? By the end of this movie, I wanted one of the pirates to shoot me!
I cannot in good conscience recommend "A Hijacking". This is not entertainment. It is another overwhelmingly depressing foray into corporate greed. Save yourself the anguish --- go see "The Lone Ranger" instead.
Opinion: Don't bother!
David: The CEO of a Danish shipping company, Peter Ludvigsen, takes over negotiations with visiting Japanese executives for a purchase in the amount of about $15 million. When the Japanese balk at his low-ball purchase price, he rises to leave the conference room, thanks them for their time, and appears headed for the door. Much like a shrewd car buyer who walks away from the dealer's offer, Ludvigsen is rewarded by his strategy when the Japanese call him back to the table. They eventually settle for less than the Danish company had intended to pay, by half a million dollars.
Ludvigsen is brilliantly played by Danish actor Soren Malling. The meeting with the Japanese is simply foreshadowing for the life-and-death negotiations that Ludvigsen will soon undertake when one of his cargo ships, the MV Rozen and its crew of seven, is hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
Writer/director Tobias Lindholm has crafted a tense thriller loosely based on real events that occurred in 2007 and 2008, and are still happening, as Jeanne mentions. Somali pirates raked in millions of dollars while crewmen were held hostage for months at a time as white-collar company leaders handled negotiations directly.
The film opens with the ship's cook, Mikkel Hartmann (Pilou Asbæk), talking to his wife and daughter over the vessel's scratchy communication device. He reluctantly tells his wife he will be delayed by two days due to unseen circumstances. What he doesn't know is that this delay will actually stretch over several months.
Asbæk is a rising star in Danish film circles. His performance in "A Hijacking" is as compelling as it is heartbreaking. In fact, the entire cast is formidable, especially --- in addition to the two already mentioned --- Abdihakin Asgar as Omar, the interpreter for the pirates, and Dar Salim as Ludvigsen's second in command, Lars Vestergaard.
The tense moments on the ship are electric. We're never sure whether or not if the Somali pirates will fire their high-powered rifles. Even as the crew and their captors eat and drink hardily one night, singing "What shall we do with the drunken sailor?", it's an uneasy respite from the ship's siege.
The office-to-ship telephone negotiations are equally riveting. To ensure authenticity, Lindholm had Asgar and Asbæk actually situated in Somalia while the company officals were located in Copenhagen.
"A Hijacking", if eligible, is an early contender for Best Foreign film at the 2014 Academy Awards, no doubt in my mind. While the ending may leave something to be desired -- I thought of a slightly different conclusion that may have played out better --- it is still haunting and memorable. Like the fate of the crew of the Rozen, this film is almost unpredictable. Almost.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!