A Hijacking holds nothing back when it comes to high-tension and claustrophobia. This Danish thriller by Tobias Lindholm is one of the most captivating foreign films of 2013 and for good reason. Set in the Indian Ocean on a Danish cargo ship, drama and unbearable anticipation unfold as the ship is taken hostage by a group of Somali pirates.
Pilou Asbæk stars as the ship’s cook , who tries in vain to persuade the his employers to hand over a large cash sum to the pirates in order to save their lives. However, things don’t quite go to plan and threat looms on the horizon as his boss Peter, played by Søren Maling, is pressured into negotiating with the pirate’s spokesman. There is little violence regarding the hijack itself, although you know at some point that something terrible is waiting around the corner.
Whilst the storyline and precise details in A Hijacking hit very close to home when considering the cases we’ve witnessed of actual nautical hijackings in recent years, the authentic feel is what makes the film such an intense watch. We see our captors bond in bizarre ways with their hostages though meanwhile the devastation and crisis talks back in Copenhagen are the pinnacle of frustration. Maling in his role is brilliant at allowing us to feel his conflicted emotions every step of the way.
However, one minuscule gripe would be that the pirates are given no real room to develop as their motive is never fully explained. For example, their spokesman is insulted and disgusted to be considered on the same level of the pirates and insists he is just the messenger when conversing with the ever-growing frantic Peter. The over-simplification of their requests, why the pirates need a small cargo ship, whey ask for so much money, what they actually plan to do whatever the outcome of the negotiations – these are questions which are never fully answered. Instead, Lindholm chooses to focus on the fates of the hostages, which, although understandable, is not quite as meaty or surprising.