A few months ago I posted a review of Headhunters, a gripping, funny and startlingly bloody adaptation of a novel by Norwegian thriller writer Jo Nesbø. I liked it a lot. Today I saw Jackpot, also sourced from a Nesbø book, and guess what: it’s also gripping, also funny and also features copious amounts of the red stuff, and again I found it tremendously entertaining. At this rate I might even have to read one of the books.
The two films are pretty similar in a lot of ways, what with the strokes of good fortune that curdle into desperate and vicious struggles to stay alive and the delicate webs of possibly feigned loyalty that keep the viewer guessing, and the elegant last minute revelations that up-end your assumptions, but the main point of difference I guess is that, whereas Headhunters starts off in the lofty world of big business and fine art dealing before charting the plight of a would-be high-flier who bites off more than he can chew, the events of the new film take place among people with crappy lives and nothing to lose. The Hitchcock-style MacGuffin (ie thing that drives the plot) is a large sum of money that a group of three hardened ex-offenders and their lowly supervisor unexpectedly win on an accumulator football bet. Clearly the sensible thing would be shake hands and split the money four ways – unfortunately (or, fortunately for an audience in the mood for some ill-considered violence) some of these men wouldn’t recognise sensible if it threatened them with a nailgun. Betrayals, retaliations, panicky clean-up jobs and late-night trips to the forest ensue, and when a menacing local heavy turns up to collect on a debt it doesn’t exactly have a calming effect on the general emotional temperature. All of this is told from the point of view of the sole survivor of the episode who is discovered at a strip joint surrounded by corpses, and while this framing structure removes some suspense as to how things eventually pan out it does afford the opportunity for some bleakly comic interrogation scenes between the nervily submissive Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) and the preening detective inspector Solør (Henrik Mestad).
Jackpot (directed and adapted by Magnus Martens) is certainly not terribly original, but it’s crisply efficient, holds your attention even when it’s not making you squirm in your seat and comes in under ninety minutes, which is always a plus. If you’re up for some good old-fashioned pulp involving household tools, artificial Christmas trees and sports bags stuffed with bank notes you need look no further.