Icy thriller just about hits it
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