A Hijacking Image

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

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  • Summary: After hijacking the crew of a Danish cargo ship, Somali pirates engage in tense and lengthy negotiations with officials in Copenhagen.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Jun 20, 2013
    A Hijacking is Lindholm’s second feature as director; he’s also worked with such austere Danes as Thomas Vinterberg of Dogme 95 fame. What he’s learned, it seems, is how to strip away distractions, and let character become suspense, as well as destiny.
  2. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    Mar 18, 2013
    The film isn’t a white knuckle ride, and the pacing can be slow at times, but this is one of those cases where that’s sort of the point, and you certainly don’t begrudge it. A Hijacking is an absorbing, highly moving film.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jul 12, 2013
    Director Lindholm is a graduate of the Dogma school, and he is able to maintain tension with a documentary camera technique, virtually no music and minimal on-screen theatrics.
  4. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    Mar 18, 2013
    Hostage thrillers are all-too-often shrill affairs, with clock-watching screenwriters wringing maximum melodrama from spiraling disorder. Not so Tobias Lindholm’s superb A Hijacking, which actually grows more chillingly subdued as its nightmare scenario unfolds.
  5. 80
    It’s an unshowy, quietly intense drama with grace notes in every scene — and a hellish punch.
  6. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    May 14, 2013
    Flies buzz, sweat trickles, negotiations continue, and you feel your breath dry up.
  7. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    May 14, 2013
    A Hijacking’ is gripping in the way the best Danish TV is – in its no-frills authenticity.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 12
  2. Negative: 1 out of 12
  1. Aug 18, 2013
    The suspense is not just carried out between the hijacked ship crew and their captors, but also back at shipping HQ where the CEO declines advice to use an outside negotiator and instead installs himself as the mouthpiece in direct talks with the "translator" of the Somali pirates. It's nail biting stuff. Expand
  2. Sep 22, 2013
    I have traversed the Gulf of Aden twice, the piece of ocean between Yemen and Somalia notorious for it’s pirates. I was somewhat familiar with the methods that pirates use when commandeering ships to demand ransoms, but to appreciate the events of Tobias Lindholm’s A Hijacking no sailing experience is necessary.

    Even though the film is a representation of how an actual Hijacking would take place: Quick, precise, and severe, the film spends little time on the mechanics of how the pirates actually board. This is not an action film. We learn that a high-speed boat has approached and boarded effortlessly, that’s it. More important to the film is what happens while the pirates are onboard.

    The first thing the pirates do, even before starting negotiations for money, is demand food. The ship’s cook, played brilliantly by Danish actor Pilou Asbaek, becomes the pirate’s gopher, and an ad-hoc negotiator between the pirates and the ship’s owners.

    Conditions onboard are miserable. Shocking even. The cook and 2 other crewmen are kept in a small closet for weeks, four other crewmembers below deck. They’re not allowed out to relive themselves in a toilet; they must use a corner of the room. My training on ships did not include images like these. There was no training about how to interact with maniacs with automatic weapons.

    The job of casting the actors that play the pirates is ingenious. All the actor’s performances are in the Somali language (I think). Their interactions with the ship’s crew are so authentic that I’m guessing none of these men were trained actors. Probably just local Somali men recruited by the casting director, but I can’t verify this. If they were actors, they’re the best I’ve ever seen.

    Contentious negotiations between the ship’s owners and the pirates leave questions. The hijacking ends without incident, almost, but the negotiations take months. Could the ship’s owner have done more? Given in to the pirate’s demands sooner? Gotten the crew home faster? Undoubtedly questions that need to be asked of the real hijackings that take place routinely in the Gulf, where we get little more than a single paragraph in the news about some, and no more.
  3. Jan 16, 2014
    Director Lindholm, a graduate of the Dogma school, creates such immense tension without the use of time-watching techniques and other on-screen antics prominent in other hijacking films, in an absorbing and carefully woven thriller that focuses on emotion as seen from the eyes of one victim (the chef) and the CEO of the shipping company. It must also be noted that the very same guy, in the capacity of a screenwriter penned two of my favourite films of 2013, this one and ‘The Hunt’. Expand
  4. Nov 4, 2013
    A very well-acted film, thanks to its two leads. It avoids any action movie cliches, in favor of the drama and thriller of the negotiation process, and the toll it takes on everybody involved. Expand
  5. Nov 4, 2013
    "A Hijacking" features excellent performances from two protagonists, delivered in an unflinching fashion that lays out the scenario, and simply allows the raw emotions to transpire on their own. The timing of the release on Blu-Ray coincides with the theatrical release of "Captain Phillips," which stars Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass. The films both tell the same story of cargo freighters hijacked by Somali pirates who seek millions in ransom. Aside from the similar subject matter however, the two films could not be any more different. "Captain Phillips" is an appealing action thriller concerned with presenting a satisfying, pulse-pounding conclusion for its audience. "A Hijacking" is a tense, grounded-in-reality based drama without the sense of comfort of a predetermined finale.

    A Danish cargo ship named the "MV Rozen" is en route to Mumbai when Somali renegades gain control of the vessel and demand millions for the return of the ship’s seven-man crew. Negotiations ensue between the corporate office and the pirates that follow the give-and-take of everyday business deals, with one important difference. In this case, the goods are human beings. Shot with handheld cameras, the movie cross-cuts between two perspectives: the captured vessel’s cook Mikkel Hartmann (Pilou Asbæk), and the maritime company’s hands-on CEO Peter Ludvigsen (Søren Malling).

    At the outset, the two characters share a common interest, but as the bartering drags on for months, the uncertainty of an outcome takes these two men in very different directions. Danish director/writer Tobias Lindholm perfectly balances the dual psyche of the captive Mikkel and corporate CEO Peter, two psychologically exhausted protagonists in remarkably different ways. A tense, slowly unwinding ticking-clock drama this may be, but the film is as much a character study, both the powerful and the subordinate, existing under extreme duress with life or death consequences attached to their decisions.

    The film isn't a white knuckle ride and the pacing is slow at times, but this is one of the cases where that’s exactly the point. Lindholm's account of a contemporary piracy situation doesn't offer the commercial appeal of "Captain Phillips," but it is nonetheless completely engaging and riveting material. There could have been several predictable avenues taken by Lindholm when telling this harrowing tale of survival and perseverance, but instead he charts into unexpected territory, and delivers real drama.
  6. Feb 12, 2014
    You might recognise an actor or two from The Killing and more recently The Bridge, those nordic dramas that have made it to the BBC. This film has that nordic feel too, with some solid acting and a genuine attempt to make it as "realistic" as possible. Still, realism is not why we watch movies, I would say, and the film suffers from a genuine lack of suspense. Yes, you want to know how it will pan out, but you do not feel that emotionally connected to the characters. Would suggest watching the South Park Somali-pirate episode as a light-hearted antidote. Expand
  7. Dec 4, 2013
    A drama movie can be saved by a good cinematography, a good plot or even good acting, this movie is below average on all.
    I'm European and it
    doesn't hurt me to say our movies are quite inferior on many levels to the american ones. 'A Hijacking' is a perfect example.

    Plot/Story 3
    Fails completely to make the viewer empathize with the situation, the time passage is very poorly organized. If for some reason you are not paying much attention to the movie timeline, you will feel like a week as passed, when in fact it was months, and this is bad since this movie is essentially about the drama of time passage in a hijacking situation.
    The characters are like empty shells where "random" drama was inserted, they fail to make the viewer empathize with their problems.

    Acting 4
    Most of the time the acting was below average, sometimes with very bad acting.

    Cinematography 3
    Nothing interesting in it, it didn't gave a sense of anything, it added nothing to the movie.

    A drama that fails at being dramatic, a suspense that isn't suspenseful, it's just a story, its up to you if you want to hear it or not.

See all 12 User Reviews