Jackpot Review

Image for Jackpot

Norwegian Oscar Svendsen (Hellum) explains to the police how he became sole survivor of a shoot-out in a Swedish roadhouse/strip-cub. A foreman in a factory staffed by ex-offenders, Oscar partnered with three former crooks in a football pool which won a l


Whereas Headhunters, adapted from Jo Nesbo’s novel, inhabits a world of high-stakes corporate crime and absurd luxury, this original screenplay (by director Magnus Martens from a Nesbo outline) is set in a low-end milieu along a Norwegian-Swedish border which comes across as akin to the Tex-Mex world of cowboy noir at sub-zero temperatures, making burying flash-frozen corpses in iron-hard ground a chore. With a windfall-of-cash MacGuffin that evokes Shallow Grave and A Simple Plan, this also pays homage to the Scandinavian-inflected US criminality of Fargo. An equivalent to the Coens’ wood-chipper is found in the Christmas novelty factory where its money-hungry, violent dimwits work — though corpses dumped into it are recycled as red-trimmed miniature trees rather than splattered all over the snow.

Framed by a lengthy interrogation as a precise, appalled cop tries to get to the bottom of a massacre, Jackpot keeps twisting and turning while its narrator, the hapless yet surprisingly resilient white-collar foreman Oscar, explains how he sank deeper and deeper into trouble. After picking up some booze to celebrate the big win, Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) returns to his flat to find one of his partners dead and an uneasy truce between the other two, Oscar’s lifelong friend and criminal foul-up Thor (Mads Ousdal) and vicious delinquent Billy (Arthur Berning). Dismemberment and disposal are the order of the day, though a Hitcher-like stray severed finger remains in the snack bowl. Soon, Oscar is worried that his comrades find dividing the jackpot into thirds too difficult and there’s a nasty way of making the arithmetic simpler. Then a local bigwig Thor owes money to gets wind of the prize.

A black farce rather than a thriller, this is one of those Usual Suspects-y things which requires close attention, offering a multiple choice of What Has Actually Happened that might require a second viewing to sort out.

Casually gruesome and corpse-littered, it’s a shaggy dog story with an almost buried emotional core about friendship, betrayal, temporary alliance and craftiness.