Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Film Review: A Hijacking (2012)

A Hijacking (Review)
Denmark/2012
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"I'm impressed at how well it built suspense off of its dialogue and performance alone."

The crew of a hijacked Danish cargo ship is held hostage by Somalian pirates as negotiations, led by CEO Peter C. Ludvigsen (Søren Malling), escalate...

A Hijacking is straight-forward in its story and storytelling. It basically follows Peter as he negotiates with the Somalian pirates, who use Mikkel Hartmann (Johan Philip Asbæk), the crew's cook, as a tool to get what they want. It goes over several months of negotiations, usually skipping weeks at a time, and it gets more tense as the time elapses. Every scene of negotiation had me on the edge. The story doesn't really hold many surprise, not that it has to, and it eventually reaches a dark, tense climax. However, it really wasn't necessary and feels tacked-on for shock value. The actual ending was a bit more open and honest.

A Hijacking is more of a drama-thriller hybrid, despite being advertised as a full thriller. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. I feel like well made drama elements really help create a more effective experience in the long run, and these dramatic elements in A Hijacking do that masterfully. The negotiations scenes are tense and powerful. The scenes on the cargo ship range from depressing to hopeful, you occasionally feel a sense of Stockholm syndrome. Despite being a straight-forward film, A Hijacking has plenty of life and feels very authentic.

There are a few things that would've benefited from some expansion, like the interactions with the Somalian pirates. Also, I was disappointed by the lack of an actual raid/boarding scene -- I know it's a lower budget film, but it just feels like there should've been a visual hijacking in a film titled A Hijacking. However, it may have been for the best to keep the authentic feel of the film and to avoid the Blockbuster vibe. There are also also a few -- and I want to emphasize, a few -- moments where the film lost some momentum. Generally, though, it moves at a moderate pace.

Søren Malling is great, he steals the show with his performance -- hr captures the right emotions, not overdone or fabricated. Johan Philip Asbæk also does a great job with a strong supporting role. The setting is captured well with great cinematography and camerawork. Music rarely plays in the film, and, when it does, it plays almost seamlessly. However, I felt like the absence of music didn't hurt the film at all: the dialogue alone masterfully builds up great suspense. Tobias Lindholm writes and directs this film with great focus on authenticity and suspense -- I think his other feature, The Hunt (Review), was a bit more daring and tense, though.

Overall, A Hijacking is a great drama-thriller. I'm impressed at how well it built suspense off of its dialogue and performance alone. And the focus on authenticity is a great addition -- no superheroes or villains in this flick, just real humans.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, including animal violence. (the throat of a goat is cut and briefly shown during one scene.)

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