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Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm (screenwriter of lauded drama The Hunt), 2012’s A Hijacking swaps action-driven thrills for tense realism, appearing like the low budget predecessor to Hollywood’s big and loud Captain Phillips. While they share the same general premise – a cargo ship and its crew are taken for ransom by Somali pirates – the two films would struggle to be more different.
Unfolding over months of stress, Lindholm’s story is split between the imprisoned crew and their shipping company employers. The crew wallow in a small cabin as the days turn to weeks, their monotony only punctuated by the occasional appearance of frustrated guards to hold them at twitchy gunpoint. Back home in Denmark, the company’s CEO attempts to bargain for the release of his men, an agonisingly slow process drawn out by the pirates’ shady negotiator.
Both the boardroom and ship’s mess experience the same mental strain as time passes, communications fail and spirits break. Each contrasting environment is crafted with cinematic precision; the ship feels sweaty on screen and a palpable sense of humid dread hangs in the air. Meanwhile the Danish office buildings are disconcertingly clean and professional as executives attempt to quantify the monetary value of their crew’s lives and guess the hostage-takers next move.
Driven by rock solid performances and tactile filmmaking, A Hijacking maintains a steady course over gripping and dramatic seas.
A Hijacking is available to stream on Netflix in the UK & USA.