The huge and unexpected success of ‘Headhunters’ has presumably led directly to the UK release of this lesser Norwegian crime comedy, also based on source material by the country’s foremost thriller writer Jo Nesbø. But while that earlier film delivered a freshness to its tale of seriously ugly people doing seriously nasty things, ‘Jackpot’ fails to bring anything new to an over-familiar tale of greed and betrayal.
When Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) and his workmates win 1.7 million krone on the pools, they naturally throw a party to celebrate. So why does Oscar wake up next morning to find himself face-down in a pool of blood in the local porn shop, surrounded by corpses and cops? There’s nothing in ‘Jackpot’ which doesn’t feel secondhand: the interview-room flashback structure echoes ‘The Usual Suspects’; the characters could have wandered out of almost any mid-’90s smalltown US indie (think ‘Fargo’ or ‘Red Rock West’); and the greed-kills plotline is inspired by everything from ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ to ‘A Simple Plan’.
That said, the film is enjoyable enough in a low-key way. Hellum makes for a likeably hapless and pitiable lead, and his relationship with smarter-than-he-looks cop Solør (Henrik Mestad) is wonderfully sly. Director Magnus Martens punctuates proceedings with moments of black humour and sudden, shocking violence, while the sheer frequency of twists, double-crosses and switchbacks keep the plot rattling along. But even the breakneck pace can’t compensate for an air of banal familiarity.