When Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) is discovered in a strip joint with eight dead bodies around him, the police presume his guilt. Oscar maintains his innocence, and tells a story of winning, friendship and murder.
Fresh from the success of Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters, another of the Norwegian crime writer’s books has been adapted for the screen and – like Headhunters – it is a crime caper and quite a lot of fun.
Kyrre Hellum takes the film in his stride. He is left to carry most of the action, as well as make his character likeable; no mean feat. Hellum throws a dash of bewilderment into his performance and laces his answers with sincerity, a tactic that soon has the police and the audience on his side. Henrik Mestad, as police officer Solor, reinforces this as he mistreats Oscar and pushes the audience further onto Oscar’s side.
The film tries to be a mix of Pulp Fiction and No Country for Old Men while taking pointers from Headhunters along the way. The opening credits borrow heavily from Tarantino, but the tension never reaches the highs of No Country. This is not necessarily a bad thing though; the film turns into a crime caper with touches of The Big Lebowski as the bodies stack up and panic sets in.
Director Magnus Martens handles this bloody film with a light touch, and scenes that could have easily rivalled any horror film you would care to mention suddenly become funny and faintly ridiculous. A severed head is lost in a forest and a body is misplaced inside a tanning bed… You get the idea.
While Jackpot is enjoyable and silly fun, it is also fairly predictable. Plot points that should have been mysterious are glaringly obvious and the ending, which takes a leaf from The Usual Suspects’s book is not the surprise that it should have been. That said, Jackpot never tries to be something it is not, so while it borrows heavily from Hollywood cinema, this becomes more an homage than out and out theft. As well as this, Norway has never looked better; the cinematography is great and it makes use of the landscape of the country.
Jackpot will inevitably be compared to Headhunters and, while it lacks the slick finish of its predecessor, it is equally as entertaining, silly and fun. There are issues with the delivery of the secrets, but Kyrre Hellum is charismatic enough to carry the film and have the audience on his side. Also, he looks oddly like Askel Hennie, the lead from Headhunters. Hmmm… In all, Jackpot is a light and gory crime caper that is entertaining, if a little thin on mystery.