A hijacking

Having begun his career as a TV scribe Tobias Lindholm got co-writing duties on Thomas Vinterberg’s “Submarino” (2010) and “The Hunt” (2012). He collaborated with Michael Noer (“Northwest”) on scripting and directing in 2010. These efforts seem to have naturally led Lindholm to direct “Hijacking,” his first solo effort.

Danish cargo ship M.V. Rosen is hijacked in the middle of the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates, the attackers demanding several millions from the ship company’s owner. Protracted negotiations follow. Onboard, Mikkel (Pilou Asbaek) the cook (he’s also a husband and a father), is caught up in this nightmarish situation along with some of his other countrymen on board. A thousands of miles away from there in Denmark, Peter (Soren Malling), the company’s CEO, decides to conduct the negotiations himself in spite of an expert who advises against it, favoring as much impartiality as possible instead.

The film’s suspenseful direction takes us from the greasy entrails of the cargo ship to the sterile and rarefied interiors of the company’s headquarters, a curious contrast that’s made sharper  by the film’s documentarian bent. As it were, Lindholm is unafraid of leveling some mild social criticism, either.

The dilemna experienced by the captives is a terrifying one, some wanting to see their loved ones again at any costs and others not wanting to give in to the astronomical sums demanded by the pirates. This leads one to reflect on the cost of human life. Nonetheless, beyond the question of money everyone’s humanity eventually emerges, even that of the CEO perched high in his cocoon-like boardroom.

A kind of void seems to hang above at the end of “Hijacking,” which thankfully cancels any possibility of a traditional happy ending and raises essential existentialistic questions. With its strong cast (supporting roles included) and simple-yet-smartly driven narrative “Hijacking” is a major success, making Lindholm the Danish filmmaker to watch.

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