It is hard to craft a hijacking film that is believable, especially when set on a boat where the main character is the ship’s cook. With that said, Tobias Lindholm’s second film, A Hijacking, feels very believable.
We are taken through the process both on the boat as seen through the eyes of Mikkel, the cook who was supposed to be at the end of a work trip, and from the negotiating side of things through Peter, successful CEO of the shipping company. Peter approaches the situation with John Wayne resoluteness that this is his ship, his crew, and his problem, but his composure strives for a constant stoicism that unravels as he loses control of the situation.
Meanwhile on the ship, Mikkel becomes unglued as he grapples between despair and general tedium. Moments of camaraderie between the crew and the pirates rest tenuously on a hair trigger to abuse. Initially, we wonder, “why can’t they just pay the money-it’s just money,” but we come to realize it just isn’t that simple.
A Hijacking presents a different kind of suspense that holds us in. There is of course the hand-held camera that leaves us a little off-kilter, but it is mainly the way Lindholm lingers in the awkward and lighthearted moments that really create intensity. For instance, whenever Peter and Omar, the negotiator for the pirates, speak, they always exchange pleasantries before getting into audaciously low and high counter-offers mixed with execution threats.
Through it all we are left with a broken cook for whom the hijacking will never be over, and a CEO who’s preconception of the way the world is supposed to work has come crashing down on him and his career.
With the different layers of conflict going on, Lindholm succeeds in creating not just a story of a hijacking (this is not an action film), but a fascinating story of the people involved. Oh! And the cook is an ex-Navy seal on a one-man mission to bring Gary Busey down so, there’s that.