Hijacking: From Denmark

Based on a real-life incident in 2009, the Danish film A Hijacking bears thematic similarities to the high-profile, high-budget Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks.

The premise, as is known by now: a bunch of Somali pirates capture a Western cargo ship off the Horn of Africa.

However, in terms of narrative strategy and style, the two movies are different. A Hijacking unfolds more as a psychological standoff between the hostage takers and the ship’s corporate brass.  The novelty of “A Hijacking” is that the story is told from the point of view of the hostages and the negotiators, not from the POV of the American captain and his crew..

We are still left to wonder whether the Somalis are mere  villains and/or victims too. The level of intensity is relentlessly high, based on the use of sophisticated and dangerous automatic weapons, and being occasionally high on the amphetamine-like plant khat, which makes their conduct erratic, screaming at one another and also yelling at the ship’s crew, resulting in chaos.

With its twists and turns A Hijacking is just as good a film as “Captain Phillips,” and it’s to the credit of the filmmakers that the running time of their taut suspenser is 100 minutes, in lieu of the epic duration (133 minutes) of the potential Oscar-contender “Captain Phillips.”