A Hijacking (Kapringen) (2013) Movie Review

a hijackingBy: Liam Hoofe (A Toast) –

Writer and Director Tobias Lindholm’s movie plays out as simply as its title would suggest; a Danish cargo ship is hijacked on the Indian Ocean by a gang of Somali Pirates.

Somali Pirates have now been a threat on international waters for some years and it was only a matter of time before a movie was released about them. Thankfully for all of us the movie was in the hands of Tobias Lindholm and his first feature movie is perhaps the best of the year so far.

The saying less is more couldn’t be more apt for this movie. The narrative structure of the movie sees negotiations taking place between corporate bigwig and company CEO Peter in Copenhagen and Somali negotiator Omar all intercut with scenes of the Pirates and their captives.

A Toast

What this movie does so well is it avoids every cliché of an action/hostage movie and replaces it with a subtle minimalist approach; this is all about building a tension, an unnerving sense of impending disaster that gets under your skin and leaves your nerves jangling long after the credits have rolled.

Where's Johnny Depp when you need him?
Where’s Johnny Depp when you need him?

Mikkel, the ship’s cook is our way into the boat, it is through him that we get to witness the atrocities committed by the Pirates and the struggles, especially the internal ones that the captives have to cope with. However, at times we see hints of Stockholm syndrome sneaking in: the crew and the pirates becoming friendly with each other over some fishing or a drink. It is this element that makes this film such a masterpiece, its human approach to the subject gives us an emotional gut punch that may not have been there otherwise.

So realistic you can almost lick the sweat off that beard.
So realistic you can almost lick the sweat off that beard.

The cast all chip in with some brilliantly convincing performances and the hand held camera approach to the movie gives it a documentary-like feel which only adds to the gritty realism.

Realism is certainly top of the agenda here and it’s executed perfectly. Every tiny detail, even down to the echoed signal on the phones is intelligently thought out and at times it feels as though we’re on that boat with the pirates ourselves.



Negotiations go back and forth, sweat gathers and the movie slowly reaches its brilliant climax. This is a tense 195 minutes of cinema and the finest that we have seen in 2013 so far.


Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time a negotiator changes his price

Take a Drink: every time someone is asked to speak in English

Do a Shot: every time a phone loses signal.

About Liam Hoofe

One comment

  1. Very much looking forward to this one. Should make an interesting compare/contrast with Captain Phillips, coming out later this year.

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