He misses his wife and daughter while enjoying his job. After Somali pirates hijack the Rozen, a tense standoff ensues, the crew's lives in the balance as circumstances deteriorate rapidly. Cross-cutting throughout the film from CEO Peter's sterile, bureaucratic offices to the ship's grubby cabins, psychological warfare takes center stage. This includes a hard-nosed, experienced negotiator brought in to guide Peter through the complicated crew-pirate mind games and the company's resistance to what they perceive as exorbitant financial demands.
The perfectly tailored, nonverbally restrained Peter, chillingly presented by Soren Malling, dramatically differs from the unkempt, effusive Mikkel living in increasingly squalid conditions after the pirates board. As Mikkel, Pilou Asbaek has the greatest character arc and telegraphs it perfectly through a myriad of verbal and nonverbal changes. The pirates' go-between Omar knows the give-and-take of the theatrical negotiations better than Peter, and neither Omar nor Peter dare to blink lest they show weakness to the other. As Omar, Abdihakin Asgar conveys a daunting persona: wily, observant and savvy with psychological toughness.
Very little context beyond the office and ship intrudes. The pirates remain largely undifferentiated, and only two of the crew gain any complexity: the captain and Mikkel through a couple scenes with, and phone calls to, the families What dominates director Tobias Lindholm's work is the claustrophobic, imprisonment within the ship as well as in the bureaucratic offices. No back-story emerges regarding the motivation of the pirates, for example, their fishing trade destroyed by other countries' overfishing traditional Somali areas.
The minimalist soundtrack, devoid of background music, pairs with the quiet, efficient camerawork to heighten the tension. We're in both locations, feeling the pressure and the impossible predicament. I'll never hear news of a hijacking again without thinking of this film.
"A Hijacking" is in Danish with English subtitles. At a Landmark Theatre.