Don’t expect Bruce Willis to come swinging into this one wearing a smelly T-shirt and a game-changing attitude. Tobias Lindholm’s starkly commanding thriller cuts out all the action heroics usually associated with hostage movies, replacing them with an underlying, nauseating sense of dread; it’s a nail-biter about being under the gun. On the Indian Ocean, a Danish cargo vessel is quietly overrun by Somali pirates—and it is quietly because this is a siege we don’t even see. In a single cut, they’re suddenly there, shoving gentle cook Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk) down a hallway to meet the gang’s cryptic mouthpiece, Omar (Abdihakin Asgar), and make contact with the moneymen.
It’s back home, in a modernist Copenhagen office suite, that A Hijacking becomes something truly special and dark: We’ve already seen brusque company exec Peter (Søren Malling) outnegotiate a Japanese contingent, so his pride is ruffled when a terrorism expert suggests he bring in another talker. Nope: Deals are his bag, along with the choking mantle of shame as days stretch into weeks and momentum stalls. Rarely leaning on the weepy families back home, this briskly paced triumph maintains a clear focus on human costs, with hope slipping away onboard while lives hang on the burp of a fax machine. Pray you never need your boss to step up like this; horror is less on the high seas than hunkered down in the conference room.
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