Recently, the Scandinavian pulp fiction scene – affectionately dubbed ‘Nordic Noir’ – has seen big success in the wake of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.
One of those to have become most prolific on the crest of this wave is Jo Nesbo, a Norwegian author who has seen his books translated into forty different languages.
After the success of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo films, big screen adaptations of Nesbo’s works were inevitable. The first, Headhunters , released earlier this year, was met with critical plaudits and relative international financial success.
The second, Jackpot , follows a similar pattern. The term ‘Nordic Noir’ is probably inappropriate for Nesbo’s stories, they’re more dark comedies; whacky narratives with absurd plot twists and revelations.
While Headhunters had sporadic bursts of violence, one scene involving a car crash in particular, this film is more full-on, with the violence taking centre stage from the off.
Kyrre Hellum plays Oscar Svendson, who along with three work colleagues (all ex-cons) wins an unlikely football accumulator bet (more than one consecutive result) totalling in a 1.4million Krone prize, the titular jackpot.
The three ex-cons may be maths-impaired, but they all quickly realise that if any one of them were to suffer an unfortunate fate, the split would be more beneficial to those remaining. Thus, what follows is a succession of bizarre murders and unfortunate events, playing out as a chaotic cavalcade of unlikeliness but also humour. It culminates in a disastrous shootout in a strip club called Pink Heaven, and here begins the film.
In steps Solor, an eccentric detective played by Henrik Mestad. He wears a snakeskin jacket and an ear-piercing, with his hair gelled up like a tidal wave and is, at first, convinced that Oscar is responsible for the deaths in Pink Heaven, but gradually becomes less resolute in his beliefs.
While both Hellum and Mestad are fantastic in their respective parts, Mestad suffers from a lack of introduction to his character. You get the impression that this distinctive looking member of the police force gets a lot more of a background in Nesbo’s books, and thus only fans of the series will have any insight on his quirks and methods.
There’s no denying that Jackpot is fun, if at times it verges on impossible to believe ( Headhunters also felt like this). Though, this is forgivable in comparison to the film’s major issue – one scene, towards the climax, practically spoilt the morality of the ending for me and also tarnished my impression of the protagonist Oscar. Presumably this appeared in the book also, and whether or not it works in that version is another matter, but it would’ve been a better film if they’d have cut it.
Overall, this is throwaway fun that, while not as good as Headhunters, still packs a laugh or two.Tom has awarded Jackpot three Torches of Truth.