Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
A Hijacking: The Human Cost of Piracy
do not teach you how to negotiate with pirates in MBA courses, but perhaps they
soon might. After all, this film is
inspired by two real life incidences of Danish cargo ships taken hostage by
Somali pirates. The negotiation process
will be an ordeal both for the captive crew of the MV Rozen and their CEO in
Tobias Lindholm’s edge-of-your-seat thriller, A Hijacking (trailer
opens this Friday in New York at Film Forum.
Hartmann is retiring from seafaring to spend more time with his family. Ordinarily, he serves as the ship’s cook, but
when hijackers commandeer the vessel, they use him to communicate with the
corporate office. He will be talking to
Peter C. Ludvigsen, a media darling CEO with a knack for negotiating hard
terms. However, bringing back his crew
will be the greatest challenge of his career.
company would willingly pay the ransom demanded, but according to their consultant
(played by real life hostage negotiator Gary Skjoldmose Porter) it is not that
simple. If they immediately pay-up, the
pirates are likely to thank them for the “down
payment” and promise to get back to them regarding the full
balance. Instead, Ludvigsen must
convince them they are getting every last cent they can possible extract from
the company. Counter-intuitively, protracted
negotiations are in the best interests of the men and the firm. Of course, it will not be a pleasant
experience for any of the Danes.
realistic, Hijacking acts as a
bracing corrective to the cathartic satisfaction of action movies. It is simply not realistic to expect Roger
Moore’s ffolkes to launch a high seas rescue mission. The logistics are too complicated and life is
too cheap for hostage takers. The film
is also likely to run afoul of the professionally offended, because it portrays
the Somali pirates as a callous, violently erratic lot. Nor does it whitewash
their Muslim faith. Of course, that is
precisely the reality sailors such as the Rozen crew must live with every day.
up the tension like a vice, Lindholm puts so much pressure on his characters they
almost turn into diamonds. This is an
exhausting nail-biter of a film, but somehow it seems far quicker than its
ninety-nine minutes, despite the agonizing nature of the drawn out months-long
negotiation. That is just great
is also a truly award worthy performance from Søren Malling as Ludvigsen. It is a brilliant depiction of the mighty
humbled, precisely because of his genuine humanity. Never clichéd, Malling’s work is easily the
most compelling big screen portrayal of a business leader in years (if not
decades). In fact, Hijacking features strong ensemble work all around, most definitely
including Abdihakin Asgar as Omar, the pirates’ devilishly manipulative
negotiator. He is an unforgettable
villain (though “villain” might not be a strong enough term).
The pirates might come from mean circumstances,
but Lindholm never apologizes for their crimes.
Instead, the victims of A Hijacking
are Hartmann and his crewmates. Clear
headed and relentlessly gripping, it is easily the pick of the week and might
be the best theatrical release of the year, so far. Highly recommended, A Hijacking opens this Friday (6/21) in
New York at Film Forum.
Labels: Scandinavian Cinema, Somali Pirates