"A film that keeps the audience guessing throughout..."
Following on from the success of the brilliant thriller Headhunters - released earlier this year - a second Jo Nesbø story has been adapted to the big screen, and this time it's the more jovial, and comedic tale of Jackpot.
We begin in a sex shop, where our protagonist Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) awakes clinching a shotgun from underneath a murdered stripper, only to find himself as the prime suspect in a case which sees a series of dead bodies lying all around him. Convinced of his own innocence, Oscar is then berated and questioned by eccentric detective Solør (Henrik Mestad) as Oscar then recounts the events of the previous 24 hours as he desperately attempts to explain how he found himself in such a precarious situation.
It all began when Oscar took part in a four-way bet alongside work colleagues and ex-convicts Thor (Mads Ousdal), Dan (Andreas Cappelen) and Billy (Arthur Berning) - a bet which won the quartet 1.7million krone. However when Oscar leaves the house he arrives back to find Dan brutally murdered, as it becomes clear that both Thor and Billy have realised that the less of them there are, the more money is shared around, and suddenly what can only be described as an escapade transpires as the three supposedly lucky winners find themselves in a situation that continues to escalate into madness, as the line between who's a friend and who's an enemy becomes somewhat blurry.
Similarly to Headhunters, Jackpot is full of the quirkiness and whimsicality that we often see in Scandinavian cinema, yet Magnus Marten's caper is far more comedy inclined, almost dropping any severity in turn for laugh-out-loud slapstick, in a picture that certainly isn't your typical crime thriller. However, despite its intrinsic originality, Jackpot is a film that is palpably rich in influences, from the likes of the Coen brothers to Danny Boyle productions. Sorry, Sir Danny Boyle. Or has that not happened yet?
Martens studied film in London and you can see how influential British cinema has been on his work, as there are certainly shades of Shallow Grave in Jackpot, as well as Trainspotting and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. From a Hollywood perspective we can certainly see much of The Usual Suspects as well as Fargo - with a scene not too far away from the infamous wood chipping sequence from the latter.
Although the comedy doesn't come through the character of Oscar, and he remains somewhat of a cipher, the part is essential to this picture as he represents the ordinary man, caught up in a world seemingly full of bizarre and somewhat dangerous people. He comes across as just a regular Joe, someone very easy to relate to - yet, and credit must go to Hellum for this - there is certainly a darker side to his demeanour, as we aren't always fully convinced of his account of what actually occurred on this fateful night.
This premise is certainly the greatest aspect to the feature, as it works intelligently as a film that keeps the audience guessing throughout. Oscar narrates this tale and we only see it unfold as he tells it, putting us in a similar situation to that of the detective. Such a layout keeps you intrigued and compelled, whilst you maintain a sense of disbelief throughout.
Of course if you wanted to you could look deeply within this film and you will find flaws, or perhaps incoherent aspects to the story that don't quite fit. Yet due to the jovial, light-hearted approach taken by Martens, Jackpot manages to be freed from such criticism, as it doesn't take itself seriously at all, and as a result, neither should you.
So, Nesbø, now it's time to allow more of your novels to be adapted - because so far, so good.