‘Jackpot’: A soccer pool prize with gruesome strings attached
By BRUCE INGRAM For Sun-Times Media June 26, 2014 9:04PM
Oscar (Kyrre Hellum, in mask) realizes sharing a windfall with ex-cons could have complications. | MUSIC BOX FILMS
Oscar Kyrre Hellum
Thor Mads Ousdal
Solør Henrik Mestad
Billy Arthur Berning
Music Box Films presents a film written and directed by Magnus Martens. Running time: 90 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles. No MPAA rating. Opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre and on iTunes.
Updated: July 28, 2014 6:10AM
As soon as you see the industrial chipper in the Christmas tree factory and those pristine white artificial trees rolling down the assembly line, you just know “Jackpot” is going to pay off with some serious gruesomeness at some point.
What you might not expect is how quickly it begins and how much gets spewed in all directions in this unabashedly derivative but nonetheless entertaining, pitch-black Norwegian crime comedy.
After an opening-moments gunfight in a garish strip club, seemingly hapless Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) wakes up with a shotgun in his hands, eight dead bodies nearby and the very suspicious detective Solør (Henrik Mestad) pointing a gun at him. Then it’s back to the station house for a post-massacre interrogation as Oscar explains how his Christmas Eve went very, very wrong.
Very, very, increasingly crazily wrong, actually, beginning with Oscar’s reluctant agreement to buy in on a long-shot soccer pool with the three ex-cons he supervises at the Christmas tree factory. Then his nervous realization that their freak win means he has to share a 1.7 million krone jackpot with three dim-witted yet murderous partners. And that none of them believe sharing is caring.
Nothing much is new about “Jackpot,” though it was based on a story by popular Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo. Oscar’s wildly complicated, flashback-reenacted recap at police headquarters comes straight out of “The Usual Suspects,” the criminal banter is typically Tarantino-esque and the industrial chipper as body disposal unit — well, we’ve seen that before too, haven’t we? The lifelong friendship between Oscar and the most genial of the killers (Mads Ousdal) adds a nice, unexpected bit of emotional substance to the story, though. And writer-director Magnus Martens keeps the pace brisk enough to prevent us from dwelling on how familiar it all is.
“Jackpot’s” laconic approach to comedy is also a plus: part low-key Scandinavian deadpan, part full-tilt Grand Guignol slapstick. As when Oscar interrupts his old friend, who’s preparing to use an ax to dismember a body in his apartment, to ask, “Is it going to make a mess?”
Silly, silly question.