This year’s 69th Venice Film Festival opened with Bait 3D (2012), which dealt with the perils of entering shark-infested water. We return to the deep with the equally dangerous and considerably scarier human sharks of the Indian Ocean, in Danish director Tobias Lindholm’s superb A Hijacking (Kapringen, 2012). The film opens with cheery chef Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk) aboard the cargo ship MV Rozen, bound for Mumbai from where he aims to head home to his beloved wife and young daughter. With just days to go before reaching port, Mikkel jokes around with his international crew mates, headed up by its Ozzie captain (Keith Pearson).
However, when the call comes in that the Rozen has been hijacked by Somali pirates, Connor Julian (Gary Skjoldmose Porter), an expert in hijacking, is called in by the Rozen’s Danish shipping company and its CEO Peter (Søren Malling). Peter finally decides that the best course of action would be to negotiate with the pirates, and so begins a tense back-and-forth between himself and the pirate’s on board negotiator Omar (Abdihakin Asgar).
Emerging talent Lindholm, who also wrote the film’s tense and taught screenplay, doesn’t put a foot wrong throughout the entire run time of A Hijacking. The characters, settings and storyline are always immensely believable, providing a fascinating glimpse into the terrifying world of modern day piracy – as well as the complicated task of dealing with such crimes that faces the men holding the corporate purse strings. The actors are pitch-perfect. Asbæk begins the movie reminiscent of Denmark’s answer to Ewan McGregor, all big blue eyes and cheeky boyish grin but by the end his features take on an intensity and borderline madness more in common with Michael Shannon, another strong contender for the Best Actor gong here in Venice.
With the consistently tense A Hijacking, Lindholm has provided the antithesis of the action movie and the result is far more gripping than most Hollywood takes on this kind of story, whether on a ship, a plane or in a building. There are no superhuman acts of heroism, no clever gadgetry and no gun-ho finale – just ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary and horrific situation.
The 69th Venice Film Festival runs from 29 August-8 September. For more of our Venice 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.