Friday, July 12, 2013

A Hijacking (orig. Kapringen) [2012]

MPAA (R) (3 1/2 stars)  AVClub (B+)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing (O. Collette) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

A Hijacking (orig. Kapringen) [2012] (written and directed by Tobias Lindholm) is a critically acclaimed /  award winning Danish thoroughly excruciating yet strikingly "actionless" psycho-thriller about a hijacking of a Danish freighter by Somali pirates somewhere in the Northern Indian Ocean presumably somewhere reasonably near Somalia and then the often tense negotiations between "Omar" (played by Abdihakin Asgar) leading or at least negotiating on behalf of the pirates from on-board the hijacked ship and Peter C. Ludvigsen (played by Søren Malling) the C.E.O. of the Danish shipping company stationed back at the company's headquarters in Copenhagen. 

Viewers who like a good story could be fascinated by writer/director Lindholm's storytelling here.  Even the hijacking itself takes place "off camera" ;-).  We're simply introduced at the beginning of the film to (1) some of the ship's crew from the ship, notably the ship's cook Mikkel Hartmann (played by Pilou Asbæk) calling his wife back in Denmark on the ship's phone on what could only have been a very average mid-morning while out at sea (Indeed, the phone call ends in something of "a spat" as Mikkel tells her that he might be delayed a few days, hence having to miss an birthday or anniversary, after the ship arrives in Mumbai prior to returning to Denmark) and (2) to the some of the staff, including the company's CEO back in Denmark going about their day-to-day business of managing an international shipping company. 

Sometime in the afternoon of that very average day, CEO Peter Ludvigsen is given the news that the company has lost contact with one of their ships, Mikkel's, that was traversing at the time the Northern Indian Ocean.  And it appeared from the Captain's (played by Keith Pearson) last transmission (basically a voice mail, nobody at HQ had picked-up the phone) that the ship was being approached by some high speed boats manned by (presumably) Somali pirates.  Subsequent attempts by HQ to make contact with the ship or its captain had failed, though the assumption was that the ship had not been sunk but rather that, probably, it had been hijacked and its crew taken hostage.

What to do?  Well, the Company begins to assemble a crisis/hostage negotiations team, and ... wait until the Pirates themselves make contact.  Now why would the Pirates do that ... make contact?  Well, as Conner Julian (played by Gary Skjoldmose Porter) an English speaking arguably semi-mercenary "security consultant" brought in to help the firm understand what it is dealing with, explains:

On the "plus side" these kind of Pirates would really have little interest in damaging the ship or _going out of their way_ to hurt the crew (though they would certainly not be a particularly "disciplined group" so "accidents" could very well happen...) as both the ship and the crew served as bargaining chips for them.  The Pirates would be primarily interested in money. 

On the "minus side," simply giving in to the Pirates' initial demands would only result in them "upping their ransom demand" to extract even more money.  So one is going to have to recognize that this is going to be a protracted negotiation regardless of what the company does (hence the Company and its negotiating team will have to keep cool heads).  Further, "time is a western concept" and will mean nothing to the Pirates.  "Even when they run out of food on the ship, the Pirates will simply bring goats on-board to slaughter and eat."  The only thing that will bring the hostage situation to an end will be when the Pirates become convinced that they really won't be able to extract any more money from the Company beyond whatever amount it has offered to give them.  So what's being talked about is an extended yet very high stakes financial negotiation.

To this end, the "security consultant" suggests that the Company hire an experienced outside negotiator to represent the firm in its negotiations with the pirates.  At this suggestion, CEO who sees himself as an expert negotiator (after all he's running a company) balks.  Perhaps he's even worried that if he ceded the negotiations to an outsider, that his Company's Board would fire _him_ as, honestly, what good would he be to them...?  The "security consultant" concedes the point.  After all, he's been brought in to give advice, but the final say has to be that of the Company's CEO (after all, that's his job).  However the "security consultant" tell him that he's in for a negotiation unlike any that he's ever been in and that _any_ mistake could cost lives.  (Yes, when cool heads are prevailing, it's to the best interests of the Pirates themselves to treat the hostage crew well, BUT "cool heads" don't always prevail in tense negotiations...)

So this then is the set-up to the story.  Sure enough, after a sufficiently long period of time to make their "power" felt, "Omar" (clearly the best educated and apparently the only English speaking person from among the otherwise only Somali-speaking but all AK-47 toting Pirates) calls the Danish shipping company's HQ on the ship's phone to re-establish contact ... and the negotiating begins.  What follows is one heck of a movie ...

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>

1 comment: