A Hijacking is an intensely realistic thriller that depicts what happens when a band of Somali pirates hijacks a small shipping vessel in the Indian Ocean.
The story alternates between the events that unfold on the ship and the ones that take place in the offices of the shipping company in Denmark.
We see the takeover of the ship through the eyes of the ship's cook, Mikkel. He's a young innocent with a wife and child back home in Denmark. His humdrum routine ends in an instant when gun-toting goons force the small crew into the hold and point rifles at their heads. Mikkel falls into a state of numbed shock as his every move is monitored by an aggressive young pirate who takes pleasure in jabbing him with his gun barrel. My stomach tied itself into knots, and I was in a state of anxiety for the remainder of the movie. At times I felt like I was on the ship, because the events were so realistically depicted.
Thousands of miles away, the CEO of the company, a shrewd negotiator with a strong sense of personal responsibility for the crew, ignores the advice of the hired hostage expert and insists on handling the negotiations himself rather than handing the duty over to a professional pirate negotiator. The effort of trying to solve the life-or-death crisis happening on the other side of the world and negotiating with unreliable actors puts intense strain in the CEO. As the negotiation drags on for weeks, and then months, the CEO is put under even more pressure by the company's board, who feel he is neglecting his other duties as the chief officer of the corporation.
The acts of violence in A Hijacking are few. This Danish-made movie is the opposite of a Hollywood blockbuster. If this had been a Tom Cruise style movie about a modern-day pirate hijacking, you could expect at least a half-dozen depictions of suicidal derring-do, 50 deaths, a fiery explosion, and an unrealistic love story. A Hijacking has none of these, and it's more powerful because of it. None of the actors look like movie stars. They aren't particularly good-looking, and their reactions to the events ring true. It's the best movie I've seen this year, and probably the best movie I've seen in the last few years. Watch the trailer below.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects