ìSooner or later, itís going to go bang.î That sage piece of advice is uttered early on in Magnus Martensí ultra-violent, utterly hilarious crime thriller, and its echo rings throughout the rest of the twisted Nordic tale like an earsplitting shotgun blast.
As the film begins, Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) is having a very bad day. Heís wearing a blood-splattered T-shirt and is being interrogated at police headquarters by Sol¯r (Henrik Mestad), a no-nonsense detective who found Oscar underneath an obese dead woman at a strip club, along with seven other bodies, and holding a shotgun. Sol¯r knows one thing for certain upon entering the bullet-ridden crime scene: A large amount of money is involved. The story then rewinds as Oscar confirms Sol¯rís suspicion and lays out the details of how a soccer bet that netted 1.7 million kroner for him and three ex-cons went terribly wrong.
The three crooks (Mads Ousdal, Arthur Berning, and Andreas Cappelen), we learn, are employees at an artificial-Christmas-tree factory in a small Norwegian town, and Oscar is a supervisor there. The trio persuade Oscar to join them in placing a sports bet, which wins them a hefty jackpot. But their initial glee is soon followed, unsurprisingly, by unbridled greed. Mayhem quickly ensues with a hammer, an ax, a wood chipper, and a nasty nail gun as the newly rich thieves turn on one another. And they arenít the only ones eager to take the money and run. The owner of the strip club (where those eight bodies eventually pile up) believes he is entitled to most of the lucre because one of the winners owes him a long-overdue debt, and Oscarís opportunistic landlord also wants in on the action. Itís giving nothing away to say that these individuals and almost everyone else in the picture donít get what they want, but do get what they deserve.
Martensí film, based on a story by Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesb¯ (the movie Headhunters was also adapted from his work), borrows heavily from the canons of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers, especially Reservoir Dogs and Fargo, with a flashback-heavy structural assist from The Usual Suspects. But hey, if youíre going to steal, you might as well steal from the best. While Jackpot doesnít add anything new to the crime genre and some of its characters border on being little more than cartoon cutouts, it still manages to deliver a walloping great time thanks to stylish direction, an exuberant pace, and a darkly comic script that is brought to crackling life by a superb cast. Hellum, who is in every scene, is especially fine and makes viewers empathize with the hapless Oscar, even though we arenít certain if his side of the events is totally trustworthy. But thatís part of the fun: Is Oscar the innocent he claims to be or a shrewd manipulator out to grab all of the cash for himself?
Jackpot certainly isnít for everyone. Itís bloody, macabre, twisted, and populated with amoral characters who are quick to quite literally backstab one another. But for cinema aficionados who worship at the altar of Tarantino and his increasingly influential ilk, itís a rollicking ride.
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- Released: 2011
- Rating: NR
- Review: ìSooner or later, itís going to go bang.î That sage piece of advice is uttered early on in Magnus Martensí ultra-violent, utterly hilarious crime thriller, and its echo rings throughout the rest of the twisted Nordic tale like an earsplitting shotgun blast… (more)