Today: April 22, 2024
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Jackpot

Jackpot, the latest Scandinavian Noir to hit UK cinemas,

begins as it means to go on with a scene that could almost serve as a metaphor
for the entire story.
A
couple of rowdy, drunken doofus’ (doofi?),
just out for a good time, drive up to strip bar/porn emporium Pink Heaven on
the Norwegian/Swedish border in the middle of the day and are promptly blown
away when they walk through the doors and straight into a violent gun-battle. Fate is a bitch and luck only comes in
two flavours; bad and dumb.

 

When the smoke clears, there’s eight bodies on the floor and trapped
beneath an obese stripper’s corpse, bloody and battered, clutching an empty
shotgun, is main suspect, and sole survivor, Oscar (Kyrre Hellum). How
fate and dumb luck came to put him there is the tale he recounts to the
skeptical Inspector Solar (Henrik Mestad)
in a twisty series of comic flashbacks that thumb their nose at The Usual Suspects.

 

Oscar is the foreman at an artificial Christmas tree plant, supervising
a workforce mostly made up of ex-cons.
Good-natured and mild-mannered, he gets on well with his workers and is
coerced into joining a work football pool syndicate consisting of childhood friend
and perpetual screw-up Thor (Mads Ousdal),
cheerful Dan (Andreas Cappelen) and
volatile psychopath Billy (Arthur
Berning
). When the quartet
beat the odds and win the jackpot, it doesn’t take long for Billy to work out
that the four-way split would go much further if there were only three of them. Or maybe two. Or maybe just one.

 

As the knives (and hammers) come out and the motley crew double- and
triple-cross each other, events spiral out of control leading to a rising death
toll, a spot of amateur body disposal involving the factory wood chipper, a
lost decapitated head and a field of hungry pigs. Meanwhile Oscar’s nosy landlord, ex-cop Gjedde (Fridtjov Saheim) is sniffing around,
trying to figure out just why Oscar’s redecorating his flat in the middle of
the night. And there’s the small
matter of Thor’s unpaid debts to local gangster and strip joint owner Lasse (Peter Andersson)…

 

As stylish, slick and fast-moving as Morten Tyldum’s adaptation of Headhunters,
Magnus Martens’ Jackpot sees the King of Nordic Noir, Jo Nesbø,
in a much more playful mood. Like
a Coen Brothers movie on a coke
binge, Jackpot is a grimy, darkly funny tale of dishonor among thieves that
rattles along at a cracking pace and will make you think twice about joining
that work Lottery syndicate your co-workers keep badgering you about. It may lack the fiendish plotting of
Headhunters but it doesn’t need it; Jackpot is a down-and-dirty, blue-collar
noir where Headhunters was an exquisitely groomed, glossy crime thriller. It’s savage and brutal, the violence a
punchline to the action, as our increasingly beleaguered hero staggers from one
increasingly screwed-up situation to the next, just trying to come out of the
whole ordeal alive and quid’s in.

 

The performances are perfect, Kyrre Hellum is great as the hapless
Oscar, an unreliable narrator who may not be as innocent as he makes out,
Henrik Mestad is excellent as the eccentric, deadpan, and very funny, cop and
Mads Ousdal is good fun as lunkhead Thor.
Peter Andersson and Arthur Berning give good scary bad guy and the film
just never slows or lets up long enough to let you pick holes in its plot. Martens keeps the script tight and he
and cinematographer Trond Hoines deliver a vision of rural Norway as
seedy and deadly as any LA back alley or Texas border town.

 

Short, sharp and deliciously, gorily funny, Jackpot is a gleefully
violent crime caper that takes no prisoners.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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