Film: A Hijacking (2012)
Cast includes: Pilou Asbaek (R), Soren Malling (A Royal Affair)
Writer/Director: Tobias Lindholm (R, The Hunt)
Genre: Drama | Thriller (103 minutes) Parts in Danish with subtitles
Mikkel hates to call with bad news, but he won’t be home until the 17th. “You promised the 15th,” Maria says. Mikkel is the cook on the Rozen, a Danish cargo ship, and he’s been away too long. “I know you’ll understand because you’re the most beautiful, understanding wife in the world.” After Mumbai, Mikkel comes straight home. It won’t be long now. Back in the kitchen, he prepares an omelet… plenty of paprika and chili, “like you like it.” He says his “secret ingredient is love.” It’s a glorious morning… made all the sweeter, thinking about Maria. “Your girlfriend?” Jan asks. “My wife,” says Mikkel, showing him the wedding ring he wears on a chain. Meanwhile, in the Copenhagen headquarters, Peter needs to close the deal with the Japanese. He didn’t know until the 11th hour that it was going off the rails, and time is running out. They’ve gone from $21 million to $19, but Peter needs to get them to $15. “The final offer is $19.” They’re holding firm. “This is going nowhere,” Peter says, as he walks out. The final figure ends up at $14.5 million, but Peter’s not happy with the missteps along the way. “Next time you need my help, get me involved right away. Understood?” he tells Lars.
Before the day’s out, Lars interrupts a meeting. “Take a look at this.” The Rozen’s been hijacked by Somali hijackers. Back on the ship, there’s machinegun fire, screaming and chaos. The hijackers are pushing the captain, engineer and cook downstairs. On day 3, Peter meets with the families. “We haven’t been contacted… no demands yet.” He urges patience. “How can we be sure they’re not already dead,” Maria asks. Peter has no credible answer. “Understand… the ship holds no value to us. Your husbands, sons and brothers are all they have to bargain with.” Coming from a man who is frostier than dry ice, his attempt at compassion seems almost reassuring. Back in the impromptu war room, it’s a different story. Connor is strongly advising Peter to bring in a professional negotiator. “This is not a normal business negotiation. If we give them the first figure they ask for, they’ll say ‘Thank you very much’ and ask for more.” Connor warns, “If you’re emotionally involved… that’s when mistakes happing.” But Peter stands firm. “It’s my ship. It’s my crew. And it’s my job to bring back my men.”
The film goes back and forth between the hot, smelly, filthy ship and the clean, monochromatic, Danish modern headquarters. On day 7, Mikkel meets Omar, the translator and negotiator. Maybe he’s more reasonable than the others… maybe not. “The sooner he pays, the sooner we all go home… could be a week, could a year.” Omar’s opening demand is $15 million. Peter is advised to counter with $250,000. It’s obviously going to be a long, tedious war of wills. Meanwhile, conditions on the ship go from bad to worse, and more often than not, Copenhagen is in the dark. This film is totally gripping, without explosions or gratuitous graphic violence. The film takes us into the character’s mental space, with flawless performances, especially Mikkel and Peter. In the beginning, we watch events unfold… by the end, we feel as if we’re living them. What starts out as a business negotiation, albeit with pirates, morphs into soul searching about core values. Even icy Peter cannot negotiate his way back to his comfort zone. And there’s no comfort to be found on the ship.
4 popped kernels
A Danish ship is hijacked in the Indian Ocean, and negotiations are more than some bargained for
Rated: R (Violence)
Distribution: Art house
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Primary Driver: Character development
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking