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The cargo ship MV Rozen is heading for harbor when it is hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Amongst the men on board are the ship's cook Mikkel and the engineer Jan, who along with the rest of the seamen are taken hostage in a cynical game of life and death. With the demand for a ransom of millions of dollars a psychological drama unfolds between the CEO of the shipping company and the Somali pirates. Written by
To make the phone call scenes between Søren Malling and Pilou Asbæk appear authentic on film, director Tobias Lindholm filmed those scenes as actual conference calls with Malling being in Denmark and Asbæk being in Kenya. See more »
An unsettling, near-perfect film that does for sailing what #Jaws did for swimming
A Danish cargo ship, MV Rozen, is hijacked by Somali pirates en route to Mumbai. The pirates, led by Omar (Abdihakin Asgar), who claims only to be the negotiator, take the crew of seven hostage and demand a ransom of $19 million in return for the ship and their lives. After an unnerving silence lasting days, Omar engages Peter Ludvigsen (Søren Malling), CEO of the shipping company, in a psychological game of negotiation that shreds the nerves of both Peter and the hostages.
Kapringen (A Hijacking) focuses on Peter, who shuns the offer of a trained negotiator, and three of his crew: Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk), the ship's cook; Jan (Roland Møller), an engineer; and the captain (Keith Pearson). With pressure from the board to resolve the situation, the burden of facing distraught family members and his own guilt at being unable to solve the crises with an instant payment, Peter struggles to gain the upper hand where his failure will mean the deaths of his men.
Tobias Lindholm, who co-wrote 2012's excellent Jagten (The Hunt) writes and directs this critically acclaimed film with a similar approach, refusing to spoon feed us with gimmickry or overstated episodes, instead preferring to leave us to join the dots, to imagine what is happening in the hours, days and weeks that Kapringen passes over. Lindholm understands that our fears are greatest when we cannot see or define them. As soon as the monster in a horror film is revealed, it ceases to be terrifying, and so it is in Kapringen. It's just that the monster isn't a vampire; it's isolation, the loss of basic human rights and the constant terror of impending execution.
As the weeks unfold, we make assumptions about the nature of the horror that occurs behind the locked cabin doors. For much of the time we don't know what is occurring as Lindholm exercises the same power as Omar. When he's revealed all he wants, he simply hangs up, cuts away, to leave us wondering. The only palpable evidence is Mikkel's increased shuffling and enhanced stoop as he cowers in the hijackers' presence and withdraws into himself.
Asbæk's performance is complete. We watch him decay in mind and body and can almost smell the sweat and fear on him. His resolve evaporates and he clings to any hope or kindness even though it comes from his tormentors.
Conversely, Asgar is cold as Omar, clearly the only character enjoying the experience. He's been here numerous times and has perfected the duel personas of good cop/bad cop offering kindness and threatening murder as if he, himself, is the victim. It is a chilling situation that feels too real to be entirely comfortable and does for sailing what Jaws did for swimming almost 40 years ago.
There is an oddness in the performance of Gary Skjoldmose-Porter as Conor Julian, the maritime hijack expert called in by the shipping company. With no other listings on IMDb but a job as Corporate Security Manager at Clipper Group, he appears to have been recruited to 'be' the adviser rather than cast to 'play' him. His (lack of?) acting prowess jars at times but the impression he gives of improvising his advice as the actors around him play their own parts in the crisis adds a certain depth and reality to Kapringen.
Malling (A Royal Affair and TV's The Killing and Borgen) gives a very restrained, but moving performance as a man who takes control through his arrogance but also needs to take responsibility so as not to feel impotent. Attacked from every side in subtle ways, he somehow manages to absorb the extreme stress and when he does shows signs of buckling, it is understanding and a relief to see that he is human.
Kapringen is a film with little action and barely a raised voice but the violence is unsettling and you'll find yourself wondering what on earth sane men and women are doing sailing around the world with such risks.
Kapringen is a film you'll struggle to find at the multiplexes so make the effort to seek it out at an arts cinema. Or wait for the DVD. Just see it.
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