The opening scene of A Hijacking has Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk), the chef aboard the cargo ship ‘Rozen’ calling his wife from the ship and apologising that he will be home 2 days late. Little does Mikkel know that the 2 day delay he predicted will drag out to months, when the ship is suddenly hijacked in the Indian Ocean, a few days short of Mumbai.
Though we get a glimpse of the sea life before the ship is seized, it is actually the corporate setting of Orion Seaways in Copenhagen that we are made familiar with and the particularly tactful and intelligent sales skills of its CEO, Peter Ludvigsen (Søren Malling). We first meet Peter taking over a deal that one of his employees is trying to finalise with a Japanese company and we learn quickly of his flair as a negotiator, and almost in the same scene, he learns that one of his ships has been hijacked by Somali pirates.
Peter and the board of Orion Seaways enlist the aid of Connor, a British professional who deals in terrorism and hijacking, and refuting Connor’s advice to bring in a third party to communicate with the pirates, Peter decides that he is the best man for the job.
Back on the ship, Mikkel, his captain and his friend Jan have been isolated from the other four crewmen on the ship. The captain has fallen ill, and Mikkel continues his duties as chef to a new, heavily armed and foreign leadership. He is soon introduced to Omar, who explains that he is only the translator between the pirates and Orion Seaways, though this information is suspicious and Omar is a person whose importance and power appear greater than he infers – a guise that may form part of their ransom practice.
The film is enthralling, and more so in the clean, corporate HQ that’s on the other end of the line. The pressure begins to eat away at Peter, as days turn to weeks and to months of negotiations. The events from the Copenhagen end play out like a game of cards, with bets being exchanged and reviewed carefully by both sides to see whose bluff will be called, as the stakes are raised and price reworked. It is an unusual occurrence in the current cinema, and perhaps because it is not an American hostage film, to see such a dangerous situation handled without any military action. The film could have worked beautifully on just the conversations between Peter and Omar, which are tense, nerve-wracking and show director Tobias Lindholm’s and Søren Malling’s obvious talent for drama.