Pilou Asbaek-Hijacking-485
Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

What can you say about a thriller that seems absolutely real, so convincing it might be a cinema verité-style documentary? That’s the best way I can describe Tobias Lindholm’s Danish import A Hijacking, a film that I found profoundly disturbing and difficult to put out of my mind.

A Hijacking tells two parallel stories: how a cargo freighter is boarded by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and its crew held hostage, and how the chief executive of its parent company in Copenhagen goes about negotiating for the return of his men and their vessel. Each set of characters is vividly portrayed without ever resorting to melodrama. The picture cuts back and forth from the ship and its crew, including a likable cook (Pilou Asbæk), to the boardroom and its chillingly austere manager (Søren Malling), who reluctantly takes advice from a professional hostage negotiator.

Soren Malling-Hijacking-485
Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Writer-director Lindholm, who like his leading actors has worked on the popular TV series Borgen, is a master of minimalism. A number of crucial incidents occur offscreen, as if he is making an anti-blockbuster. No matter: we feel the impact of those moments as if he had depicted them in grim detail. Moment by moment, detail by detail, we find ourselves wondering what will happen next, and pondering how we would respond in a similar situation.

This is superior storytelling which builds to a sobering conclusion. A Hijacking haunted my thoughts for several days after I saw it. I can’t think of higher praise for any film.