Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Magnus Martens
Stars: Kyrre Hellum, Henrik Mestad, Arthur Berning, Mado Ousdal, Andreas Cappelen.
Scandinavian crime thrillers are all the rage at the moment, with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Henning Mankell’s popular Wallander series of novels, which have formed the basis of a tv series. And earlier this year we had the superb Headhunters, adapted from a novel by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo.
Nesbo’s story Jackpot forms the basis for this offbeat but enjoyable blackly comic crime thriller about greed, murder, mayhem and disloyalty amongst crooks. The casual violence and touches of humour are reminiscent of the films of Tarantino, Guy Ritchie and the Coen Brothers.
The film opens spectacularly with a shooting at a liquor store and the Pink Heaven sex and porn bar. When the police arrive they discover a sole survivor. Oscar (Kyrre Hellum, from The Liverpool Goalie, etc) is covered in blood, and found lying under the body of a prostitute while holding a shotgun. He is hauled off to the police station and is interrogated by inspector Solol (Henrik Mestad, from Night Of The Wolf, etc), a cynical detective who finds it hard to believe the story that Oscar tells.
In a series of extended flashbacks we learn of how Oscar ended up in that location. As the manager of the Evergreen factory, Oscar works with ex-cons to rehabilitate them and give them necessary training. The factory takes used plastic and puts it through a shredder, turning the material into small decorative Christmas trees. Oscar is persuaded by three of the workers to invest in a football lottery ticket. He reluctantly goes in with the slow-witted Tor (Mado Ousdal), Don (Andreas Cappelen) and the volatile, dangerous psychopath Billy (Arthur Berning).
But when they win the jackpot of one million kroner, trouble begins as Billy decides that the winnings should be split, not four ways but three. Billy is dangerous and acts without thought of the consequences, and soon the guys have a dead body on their hands. Events spiral out of control as Oscar tries to stay ahead of the murderous Billy and dispose of the body. Not since Fargo has a shredder been put to such grisly but effective use in disposing of an inconvenient body.
Jackpot is the sophomore feature for writer/director Magnus Martens (United, etc), and he deftly juggles the non-linear narrative. The sinuous plot also recalls The Usual Suspects in the way it unfolds. Martens demonstrates a keen understanding of the conventions of the genre, and he tempers the moments of violence with black humour. The film packs a lot into its brisk 82 minutes, and there is not a wasted moment in the wonderfully developed script.
Martens is aided by the solid performances of his cast. Hellum plays the hapless Oscar fairly straight, and he is sympathetic as the innocent man caught up in deadly events. Mestad is rather droll as the dogged detective trying to make sense of Oscar’s rather bizarre tale.
Jackpot is certainly another strong example of why Scandinavian crime fiction is so popular, both in print and on screen.