A Hijacking (2013)


The days of Jack Sparrow sure have changed.

MV Rozen, a Danish cargo ship, is going about it’s usual coast and features little to no problems whatsoever. Back at home, C.E.O Peter Ludvigsen (Søren Malling) is cutting deals with other companies in order to make so money, while also being able to tell them that the ship will be on deck shortly. That all changes once a bunch of Somalian pirates take over and demand over $10 million. Everybody back at the company freak out, so obviously they feel as if they have to get a professional on-board to help them negotiate a deal with these dangerous-beings, but nope, Ludvigsen will not have it. It’s his ship, it’s his crew, so therefore, it’s his responsibility. However, the man realizes the limits of responsibility once he becomes more and more connected to this ransom deal, as well as the cook aboard the ship (Pilou Asbaek).

This is one of those movies where it feels like it could have taken the easy way out, gone one way, came out another, and been as conventional as you could have gotten. However, writer/director Tobias Lindholm is better than that. A lot better than that and he knows how to build a story filled with suspense and all sorts of drama, without ever diving into the over-the-top theatrics that a similar film to this, Captain Phillips, looks like it might just take. However, I have yet to see that movie and have only seen this, so less talk about that movie, and more about this gem.

Something tells me his facial hair would be a lot longer. And a lot more grungier.
Something tells me his facial hair would be a lot longer. And a lot more grungier.

What I was alluding to up there, is that this flick could have easily been all about how this big corporate-head, and how he stops at nothing to get the ship back, at any means necessary. That means he could have been one of those dudes that didn’t care about the stakes, the human life, or the fact that the families out there are worried to death for their loved ones, and that the only thing on his mind the whole, entire time was making his co-workers/bosses happy and save his company some money. May not sound too bad and out-of-reason for some corporations out there, however, this flick is not like that and nor is this character.

Everything here is played to the utmost subtlety, especially when we see certain character’s real motives and ideas come out of their systems. Then again, nobody really has any sort of hidden agenda here. They are sort of just sticking true to themselves and hoping that whatever happens, is for the better and not for the worse. That said, the flick isn’t so subtle that we don’t even we feel anything at all. In fact, I’d say that this flick is surprisingly tense, but not in the ways you’d expect it to be and hell, might even take you off-guard.

Take for instance, the fact that we don’t even see the initial-raid of the ship. What we do see is the corporate-head getting a distress call from the ship, him rushing to the phone, and figuring out what’s going on. Cut to the next scene, and we see a bunch of Somali pirates holding guns, demanding stuff to happen in whatever language they’re speaking, and all of a sudden throwing you into something that’s among the lines of a thriller, but without the most thrilling part you’d expect to see in the whole movie. It robs you of that set-piece, but it doesn’t feel like manipulative or deliberate; it’s just sort of how this movie paints it’s story, without adding any secret-meaning underneath it all or anything. It’s just as straight-up with you, as you are with it. It’s sort of like a friend you meet, talk to, get to know, and develop trust with over time, as you can both see that your both being honest and real with each other.

Stupid alliteration, I know. But hey, it’s all I got right now. Please stick with me here people.

The movie does switch back-and-forth from the ship to the corporation building where they are trying to figure out what to do with this deal, how to let it settle in, and how to have it complete without any blood on anybody’s hands, and that does provide some frustration at times. Especially one part, probably the most tense of the whole one where we hear something, but we never see it. There are plenty of phone calls in this movie, but rather than pulling off a trick like split-screen or fast-edits to make it clear and possible to hear both ends of the conversation, all we have is the conversation on speaker-phone that can be as tense as ever. Well, except for that one moment where they don’t go back to the ship for awhile and we really need to see what the hell has happened aboard. I don’t want to give too much away so I’m going to be as vague as possible, but then again, maybe it’s just me who felt that way and nobody else.

Yup, that’s probably it. I’m a dick.

Why all that money, when you have yellow-colored walkie-talkies at your disposals?
Why all that money, when you have yellow-colored walkie-talkies at your disposals?

Although, I do have to say that I was glad to see that not only did this flick seem to treat it’s protagonists with enough respect and care to shake a tail feather, but also it’s antagonists as well. Believe it or not, the movie isn’t really making these pirates seem like terrible people. Granted, they are bad, they do bad things, and aren’t the nicest dudes you want to meet up with in a bar if it’s just you and 15 of them, however, they’re given some moments of slight humanity where you see them for people with feelings and emotions, and not just a bunch of grimy criminals that hold guns to people’s heads and demand a ransom. Even the leader of these pirates, who always lets everybody know that he is not actually a “pirate” per se, and more or less just a translator for these fools, gets a bit of bright and shiny spots where we see him for a reasonable guy; one that you couldn’t see killing anybody, even if he had to. Then that all changes once you see him get any bit of pissed-off and it’s all downhill from there, and you automatically crap your pants.

That was nice to see in a movie like this, just like it was nice to see a sympathetic hero that isn’t trying too hard to seem like “the man above the rest”, but more of just a guy that does what he needs to do, without trying to hurt anybody at all. I wanted more development with this character of Ludvigsen, but Malling’s general iciness and cold-stare, made it worth watching, even when the flick didn’t seem to have anything interesting to show or say. He reminds me a bit of a Bond villain, with the exception that this is a good guy, who does good things for the people who trust him. Hope to see more of him around in the States, just like everybody else in this cast, especially Asbaek who’s fairly solid in a role that could have gone nowhere and been as bland as Paul Walker. Just think of what could have been people.

Consensus: The questions it raises don’t really seem to come out clear, or at all for that matter, but A Hijacking is too subtle and too smart for that type of heavy-handed preachiness, and just tells it’s story the way it’s meant to be told without any added gimmicks or tricks thrown in.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Pirates? Like the one of the Caribbean?"
“Pirates? Like the ones of the Caribbean?”
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9 comments

  1. Well, this sounds like something I should check out. I don’t think I’ve watched the trailer for the Tom Hanks one yet, either, so I’ll do that. But I’m all for some Somali pirate movies. It’s an untapped genre.

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