Until 2005 or so, no one thought much about modern piracy of the high-seas variety. But then Somali pirates began attacking merchant ships with increasing frequency, seizing vessels and holding their crews hostage for outlandish sums. Danish director Tobias Lindholm's wiry, neatly crafted thriller A Hijacking wrests fact into the shape of believable fiction, although the movie is most remarkable for everything it doesn't show: We never see, for example, the pirates clambering aboard the victimized ship. One minute it's business as usual—the cook hustling about the galley, ascertaining just how the captain takes his coffee-- and then, suddenly, the pirates are just there. Their almost vaporous appearance makes their presence especially sinister. Lindholm frames his story through two key figures: the cook, Mikkel (Pilou Asbaek) and Peter (Soren Malling), the shipping company’s straight-arrow CEO in Copenhagen. He's the guy who must negotiate by phone with the marauders, who employ an unnervingly smooth spokesperson, Omar (Abdihakin Asgar). Lindholm keeps A Hijacking spinning expertly between two poles, Mikkel's increasing emotional fragility and Peter's stalwart efforts to keep the negotiations cool, even when he begins losing his own. Asbaek brings an air of cautious joviality to the role of Mikkel, and Malling makes you care about the otherwise boring dude in the suit: he comes off as a cold dollars-and-cents guy in the movie's early minutes, only to transform into a principled businessperson who actually gives a damn about the people who help line his pockets. Then again, he cares because he's forced to: It takes a brutal hostage situation for him to recognize the worth of his employees.
Tobias LindholmAmalie Ihle Alstrup, Johan Philip Asbæk, Ole Dupont, Søren Malling, Roland Møller, Dar SalimMagnolia Pictures