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Jackpot ("Arme Riddere")

Canadian Premiere
  • Norway
  • 2011
  • 82 mins
  • HD
  • Norwegian
  • English (subtitles)

“Whip-smart pacing and quirky Scandinavian attitude” — John DeFore, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

In a Norwegian police station near the Swedish border, right around Christmas time, Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) is being interrogated by a befuddled inspector (Henrik Mestad) who, an hour earlier, found him at strip joint/adult video store Pink Heaven, crawling out from under an enormous woman, with a bunch of dead bodies lying everywhere around him and a shotgun in his hands. As Mike LaFontaine would say, “Wha’ happened?” Flash back to the previous day when Oscar, who is a supervisor at a recycling plant where all the workers are ex-cons, let three of his employees — Billy (Arthur Berning), Thor (Mads Ousdal) and Dan (Andreas Cappelen) — rope him into entering a soccer pool. Amazingly, they end up winning nearly two million kroner, but their celebration is short-lived. How do you divide this jackpot by four? Wouldn’t it be easier to divide it by three, by two… or not at all? Tensions grow, tempers fly, and before you know it, the corpses start piling up. Don’t you just hate when that happens?

Based on a story by crime writer Jo Nesbo (whose work also inspired Morten Tyldum’s HEADHUNTERS), this second feature from Norwegian writer-director Magnus Martens (UNITED) is a wildly entertaining thriller filled with colourfully crooked characters, startling bursts of violence and gallows humour. While it undeniably bears the influence of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers, JACKPOT is perhaps most reminiscent of early Danny Boyle (SHALLOW GRAVE, TRAINSPOTTING), with a touch of THE USUAL SUSPECTS thrown in for good measure. Running a tight 82 minutes, it keeps hitting you over the head with beer bottles, throwing severed body parts in your face and splashing blood all over you, yet all the while, you can’t help but grin or downright laugh out loud. Martens’s film, which is also genuinely suspenseful at times, benefits greatly from flamboyant cinematography, sharp editing and shrewdly used music. And then there’s the uniformly great cast, which pulls off the impressive feat of navigating the film’s wonderfully abrupt tonal shifts while without going over the top. Particularly enjoyable in that regard is Henrik Mestad as the police detective who just can’t believe the insane story Kyrre Hellum’s character is telling him. Irresistible!

— Kevin Laforest