A Hijacking Screen 16 articles

A Hijacking


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  • Beyond its ideological dubiousness, A Hijacking lacks in dramatic tension and narrative coherence; half of the crew disappears shortly after the ship is hijacked, only to show up again by the end of the film. Why? Where were they?

  • Tobias Lindholm’s solo directorial debut is perhaps as remarkable in the script department as his previous work, but the film itself—like the ship it depicts—sometimes goes adrift. Much of the film’s handheld camerawork is distracting rather than immersive, and his aversion to using dramatic music stymies the film’s rhythms. The human stakes of the situation, though expressed in the dialogue, do not come to life in the film’s action.

  • The movie is all the tauter for its stretches of eerie calm, but it becomes apparent that Lindholm has a more assured hand with process details (Peter must listen to his own voice echoing back over the conference-room phone before Omar responds) than character traits. The ur-chief-executive’s extreme company-man discipline never becomes quite credible; his wife and Mikkel’s appear onscreen only long enough to register that they’re upset in the most general terms...

  • Humour might've been inappropriate (though it worked for Juggernaut and Taking of Pelham One Two Three) but Paul Greengrass-style pyrotechnics might've helped, or (especially) stronger characters; neither the pathos-laden cook with a wife and child back in Denmark nor the flinty CEO who gets emotionally involved are as fascinating as the film seems to think.

  • Writer-director Tobias Lindholm's long takes and handheld cinematography provide a docudrama sheen that's never intrusive, and his plotting has a taut and methodical inner logic in which every development has a clear cause-effect relationship to that which has come before.

  • Lindholm juxtaposes between the increasingly grimy, urine-soaked ship and the existentialist white offices of the corporation, where its robotic CEO slowly malfunctions. Emotions, says one character, lead to mistakes, and this one fumbles only on the few times it goes for anything but the facts.

  • I like how this one establishes a template, with the cold Copenhagen office scenes seemingly intended to set up a condemnatory portrait of this detached corporation - treating its workers as goods rather than humans - but then ducks it to pursue a more complicated treatment of the topic.

  • Lindolm’s tunnel vision plotting eschews extraneous details and character-defining speeches in favor of fixing on the ransom process. While this might sound like a recipe for fact-heavy docudrama, it instead produces a psychologically nuanced study of men disintegrating in morally compromised circumstances.

  • Toggling between psychologically broken crew members and their corporate overloads back in Copenhagen, this thriller slowly turns the screws, as days become weeks, and nerves become seriously jangled.

  • To find such a radical riposte to the Hollywood thriller – and a rehabilitation of a decades-old stereotype – is a genuine surprise. It’s hardly Eurotrash but, like Ellis found with Hans Gruber, this is much more than we bargained for.

  • It’s back home, in a modernist Copenhagen office suite, that A Hijacking becomes something truly special and dark... Rarely leaning on the weepy families back home, this briskly paced triumph maintains a clear focus on human costs, with hope slipping away onboard while lives hang on the burp of a fax machine. Pray you never need your boss to step up like this; horror is less on the high seas than hunkered down in the conference room.

  • Through it all, A Hijacking maintains its cinematic grandeur, balancing the open-sky thrill of being at sea with the claustrophobia that comes with being forced below deck for days at a time. In A Hijacking, the ocean, mysterious and unpredictable, is both old friend and enemy. But the greed of men is something else entirely: It's small, desperate and mean, wholly at odds with the majesty of the sea.

  • If the relentless Danish piracy thriller “A Hijacking” were an American movie, or had been made in English... it would be widely proclaimed as one of the best films of the year. But that’s essentially a ludicrous thing to say, since no mainstream American thriller could ever be made about this subject that resisted simple-minded narrative clichés the way “A Hijacking” does, or that refused to depict its characters as either heroes or villains.

  • “A Hijacking’’ is Lindholm’s second feature as director; he’s also worked with such austere Danes as Thomas Vinterberg of Dogme 95 fame. What he’s learned, it seems, is how to strip away distractions, and let character become suspense, as well as destiny.

  • The more Peter’s sense of personal responsibility grows, the more he seems caged in on all sides, rebuffed by the Somalis but equally hampered by his superiors, who provide him with financial offers a fraction of what the pirates demand. A Hijacking thus becomes an intriguing update on Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low, in which the individual stake of a mogul’s wealth is replaced by money technically owned by shareholders.

  • ...One surprise worth reporting about Tobias Lindholm's A Hijacking is its whisper-quiet sense of absurdist humor. We're talking about trace elements of the surreal, as if the blunt-edge gags in fellow Danish auteur Lars Von Trier's The Boss of It All were rendered subliminal, but it's there, and it's one thing among many that points to a director of great attentiveness, tact, and wily intelligence.

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