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
With the big budget film Captain Phillips arriving in the UK recently it reminded me that I had this much smaller film sitting unwatched in my queue. I don't know the details of Greengrass' film, but I presume the basic principle is the same as this film, which sees Somali pirates take over a Danish cargo ship and demand millions of US dollars for its release. The drama in this case unfolds in the boardroom of the company (focused on CEO Ludvigsen) and on the ship (focused on cook Mikkel).
The film puts an emphasis on realism in how it delivers the story to the viewer; conference calls between the CEO and the pirates are filmed as conference calls (complete with time lag and echo) and the expert in maritime security that the fictional company brings in is indeed not an actor but someone who does this for a living for a shipping company. It helps that this sense of realism is so deeply embedded in the techniques because it does make the film work very well in terms of tension. This isn't Under Siege where the cook takes on the hijackers, nor is it a film where the dramatic score does the heavy lifting – if anything the film sits back and lets the people just be in this situation. As a result it is a more toned back film in regard to the delivery but it works well to make everything feel tense and unpredictable – the calls are as gripping as the scenes of imminent personal danger on the ship.
The cast are a big part of this. At first I was concerned that I would not be able to get into the actors since so many were familiar faces to me from Forbrydelsen, Borgen, Game of Thrones and some other shows. As it was though I didn't struggle at all because everyone plays their characters so well that I forgot they were ever anyone else. Malling was the biggest jump for me as he is very different here than when I have seen him before, but he does it very well, letting the cracks show but never overdoing it for a specific scene. Asbaek has the toughest role as it is full of danger and emotion and he convinces throughout, sharing his frustration and fear with the viewer. Supporting roles are generally good with Salim, Moller and others doing good. I particularly liked Porter; occasionally he is a little clunky when working with the actors as a performance, but generally when he is in "the room" where he works in real life then he is a great presence and again really helps the sense of realism.
Kapringen maybe doesn't have the large budget or production aims of a bigger film, but the focus on realism in the making of the film pays off to produce a story that is tense and engaging throughout. Well worth a look.
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