Film Review: Pioneer


Erik Skjoldbjærg’s mystery thriller Pioneer has a strong start, but falters in the second half of the film. Pioneer certainly stretches the ‘based on true events’ inscription.

With Norway keen to capitalise on the oil beneath their waters, the help of the Americans is enlisted to excavate the precious resource. A small team is sent on a deep sea dive, but when tragedy strikes it is up to one of the divers to uncover the truth…

Pioneer is based around real events that occurred in the 1980s when oil was discovered in the North Sea. Viewers will realise, however, to take this tag of realism with a healthy dose of skepticism as the film twists and turns.

There is a level of intrigue to the plot that keeps viewers engaged. The effects of decompression and the conditions of the divers is emphasised effectively in order for the audience to question the events following the accident, for a certain time at least.

Pioneer‘s story is plausible enough to begin with. The action unfolds in a way which does not contradict the film’s true events credentials. As the narrative progresses, incidents increasingly surprise with their implausibility. The lack of authority involvement, for example, when things take a dangerous turn is never explained.

The ending of the film feels protracted. A natural and more climactic ending should have occurred about twenty minutes earlier than the actual ending. When the climax arrives, theatrics appear over blown. Whilst the titles before the end credits fill in some of detail of what happened next on a wider scale, this once again reinforces the true events tag. In which case, the lack of repercussions for such a notable incident seems bizarre.

Cinematography in Pioneer is good. The camera work effectively conveys the claustrophobia of the unusual setting. Colour and composition work well in the diving sequences. Performances in the film are decent, with Aksel Hennie offering a solid portrayal as Petter.

Pioneer is disappointing for the fact that the initial set up could have delivered a compelling thriller, instead of one that makes viewers question its plausibility.

Film Review: Headhunters

Based on Jo Nesbø’s novel, Headhunters is implausible but tremendous fun. Morten Tyldum’s crime thriller is highly recommended.

Roger Brown is a successful headhunter who lives in a swish apartment with his beautiful wife. In order to afford their extravagant lifestyle, Roger steals valuable portraits from clients, replacing them with forgeries. When he meets ex-mercenary Clas Greve at his wife’s art gallery, Roger thinks he has found his next target…

Morten Tyldum directs Headhunters with deftness. Action scenes are suitably frantic, and the film maintains a steady pace throughout. Although Headhunters can be tense at times, there is an underlying irreverence to the film. The action sequences never lose their sense of frivolity, despite a certain brutality to them.

Headhunters is a heady mix of creativity and predictability. There are some highly amusing moments in the film. Most will pick up the clues to see where the ending is going. This is not too much of a detraction, as Tyldum retains the fun factor. The central character Roger is fallible in his insecurities. He appears inferior to nemesis Clas in terms of looks and success; in this way he is more of an every man despite his questionable morals.

Headhunters offers sleek production values and cinematography. Performances are decent all around Aksel Hennie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are well cast as Roger and Clas; both are sufficiently believable in the roles. Headhunters is recommended fro those who like their thrillers tinged with humour.

Headhunters is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.