The Danish film Kapringen starts off with the ring tone of a satellite phone. Mikkel, who works as a cook on a small cargo boat, tells his wife, on the other end of the line, that he will be home two days later than planned. Although she is disappointed, the conversation remains casual and the delay seems more of a nuisance rather than being of any real significance. Little do we know at that point that the two day delay will extend to months, and that this is the last time a casual phone-home conversation will be held over that particular satellite phone.
In Tobias Lindholm’s Kapringen, the Danish cargo boat Rozen, is captured by Somali pirates. The crew, among which is the cook Mikkel and the engineer Jan, is taken hostage and kept alive in pitiful conditions. Meanwhile, we follow the story of the CEO of the company that owns the boat: Peter. Against an external expert’s better judgment, he personally heads the negotiations with the pirates. His aim is to free both the boat and the people on it.
The movie alternates between the company environment through Peter and the boat itself through Mikkel’s perspective, as the pirate’s translator, Omar, plays psychological tricks on both of them to maximize the pirate’s ransom. Kapringen uses a clean and minimalistic presentation to establish a strong connection with Peter and Mikkel. We see their strengths, particularly in the beginning, but also their weakest moments which coincide with climaxes in the movie. The typical relationship dynamic between captor and hostage is also explored from various perspectives. Sometimes everyone on the boat seems equal, while at other moments it becomes painfully clear who really is in power.
Kapringen is a thriller, though it wisely avoids genre clichés. The capturing itself is never fully shown, instead the focus is on the interactions between the hostages, the captors and the negotiators. Kapringen may be an alternative circuit movie, though for that category it certainly is not slow. Kapringen is an excellent viewing choice for those looking for a good and deep psychological thriller without the usual predictable Hollywood fluff.