An elaborate crime-action puzzle surrounds Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) in Jackpot. (Doppelgänger Releasing)
Take four greedy Norwegian factory workers, a high-stakes betting pool, a sex-shop shootout, severed body parts, Christmas, a no-nonsense detective and you get the stimulating flick, Jackpot. The dark-humor crime escapade, from Norwegian director Magnus Martens, tells a non-linear story of how Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) and his trio of ex-offenders win 1.7 million by betting on a soccer game.
In Pulp Fiction fashion, the movie begins in the middle of this folly with Oscar waking up, shotgun in hand, in the midst of a multiple-murder investigation and just so happens to be right in Detective Solør’s (Henrik Mestad) crosshairs. From there on, the story leaps in-between Solør’s hard-cop integration and Oscar’s version of how he ended up in such an unpremeditated situation.
As a friendly disclaimer, Jackpot isn’t recommended for the light of heart. If hard-bitten male bonding, the disposal of dead bodies and gruesome gunfights aren’t your cup of tea, I would suggest re-watching your favorite Disney movie. However, if you’re like me and find yourself smitten by cheeky dialogue and laughing at stuff you probably shouldn’t, this film is right up your alley.
The plot begins to thicken and twist as Oscar begins to divulge to Detective Solør how he and his three ‘ape-like’ coworkers, as Solør likes to call them, managed to win and lose 1.7 million in a span of two days, as well as becoming connected to the murder of eight people. The pinches of comical relief serve as a perfect balance to the graphic nature of the narrative. Never have I thought that a discussion about which way is best to cut up a corpse would be so hilarious, yet so twisted. Once again, have Finding Nemo on standby just in case.
Not only is it fun to watch the four blokes interact and bicker with one another, but it’s engaging how Martens ties this intense crime world into a mix that keeps you curious as to how this will all end up.
The pacing of the film serves its purpose as a fast cadence of shenanigans up until the final plot twist, which left me with one raised eyebrow and a sense that this movie could have concluded differently. Let’s not let a crummy ending overshadow the other compelling attributes, though.
The array of Norwegian actors is perfectly cast and became a strong point in carrying the movie forward. The kooky relationship between Hellum’s character and his three colleagues contrives the reality and believability of all the debauchery that ensues.
Mestad, as the quizzical Detective Solør, does a phenomenal job of being the moral compass throughout the movie. However, because the story tends to jump around so much, characters such as the beautiful Lena Kristin Ellingsen’s Trine and awkwardly funny Fridtjov Såheim’s Gjedde aren’t given a chance to fully develop as much as they could have.
The entire tone of the movie felt like I was revisiting some of my favorite Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino or Coen brothers films, but Jackpot lacked the witty dialogue, attention to detail and overall character development that such directors encompass in each of their films. Don’t get me wrong, though. Martens was able to successfully write a comical 1 hour and 30 minutes crime-action puzzle that deserves a watch.
In select theaters and nationwide on VOD June 27
Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).