Icy thriller just about hits it

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

THE USUAL car­i­ca­ture of Nordic crime drama in­volves some grey mid­dle-aged man (or som­bre woman in a jumper) mop­ing un­hap­pily about a snow-cov­ered park while at­tempt­ing to piece to­gether an aw­ful con­spir­acy con­cern­ing child abuse and sex traf­fick­ing. Norwegian scribe Jo Nesbo re­turns to con­firm that there is an­other way.

Jack­pot is not set in the jol­liest of lo­cales: drab sex clubs, squalid front rooms, unattrac­tive fac­tory floors. No­body much en­joys them­selves. But the tone is more re­lent­lessly zany than a typ­i­cal episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! What we have here is a con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous ver­sion of The Trea­sure of the Sierra Madre pro­jected through fil­ters shaded by Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie. It’s great fun, if a lit­tle mud­dled in its later stages.

Kyrre Hel­lum plays the con­sis­tently puz­zled, fre­quently punched pro­tag­o­nist. Jack­pot be­gins with him wak­ing up at the bot­tom of a heap of bod­ies in a strip club. Given that he is clutch­ing a shot­gun, the po­lice not un­rea­son­ably as­sume that he has fig­u­ra­tive as well as lit­eral blood on his hands.

The story Kyrre tells is vi­o­lent and twisty. It seems as if he and a bunch of pals re­cently won a for­tune af­ter plac­ing an ac­cu­mu­la­tor bet on do­mes­tic football. The whis­tle had hardly blown be­fore mur­der­ous squab­bles broke out be­tween the newly wealthy layabouts. Triple-cross fol­lows dou­ble-cross as the for­mer friends fight for sur­vival and a big­ger slice of the pie.

For most of its du­ra­tion, Jack­pot sur­vives on breath­less plot­ting and an en­thu­si­asm for hi­lar­i­ously blood­thirsty may­hem. Hel­lum con­stantly wears the face of a man who has just looked up from the sofa to see a 10-ton truck crash­ing through his pic­ture win­dow.

How can they keep the pace go­ing? The truth is they can’t. In the last act, a jar­ringly un­con­vinc­ing piece of plot mis­di­rec­tion leads us to­ward a fi­nal twist that asks more ques­tions than it an­swers. Pretty zippy, nonethe­less.

Cold killers in Jack­pot

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