(Beware! Contains Mild Spoilers!)
Full of festive cheer and blueberry glogg we sat down to watch a tense and harrowing thriller, ‘A Hijacking’, written and directed by Tobias Lindholm and based on real life events.
The two main characters are the cook Mikkel (played by Pilou Asbaek) on the cargo ship MV Rosen and Peter, the CEO of the shipping company back in Denmark (played by Soren Malling).
Our sympathies lie with the cook, missing his wife and young daughter, who is psychologically manipulated by the Somalian pirates who take over the ship. The other crew members don’t feature much, other than the captain who is a pivotal figure in the emotional plot on a couple of occasions. The CEO presents a pallid, dry, unlikeable, grim figure under pressure from the board and seemingly unmoved by the plight of his men. He negotiates over the phone with Omar, a Somalian on board who first demands many millions of dollars. As negotiations continue into the third month the crew, starving, desperate – begin to unravel. Many times the cook has a gun held to his head. He pleads with the CEO to pay the ransom, he even continues to call him Sir on the phone.
This is a quiet, understated film which explores the psychology of isolation. You can sense the stench of the unwashed crew living in their own excrement and totally unable to understand the personalities of their captors. The CEO starts off the negotiations with an expert hired company negotiator and has the sole objective of acheiving the best possible financial outcome for the company with as little bad publicity as possible. The CEO gradually becomes more involved in the emotional plight of the crew, especially the cook, against the negotiator’s advice of remaining emotionally detached. The plot of the film follows the psychological breakdown of both the cook and the CEO. It highlights the marked contrast this has on both of their lives.
The story is filmed with a lack of colour, similar to the TV series The Killing. A hijacker’s yellow radio, the red of blood, African textiles and the blue of the sky provide the occasional splash of colour. Hues of brown, black and grey are the main palette and you can almost feel the fresh air on your face when the hostages are allowed on deck after their log periods of confinement.
There is no Hollywood style triumphant ending. Instead, a thoughtful, bleak conclusion leaving one none the wiser as to the lives of the pirates or the future of the psychologically broken main players. There is no sugar on the pill at the end of this film.