out of Five
Running time: 81
Jo Nesbo's Jackpot is watchable enough and decently paced throughout, but it's ultimately let down by boring, unlikeable characters, a derivative, over-familiar plot and an unsatisfying finale.
What's it all about?
Directed by Magnus Martens, Jo Nesbo's Jackpot is based on a story by Norwegian thriller writer Jo Nesbo (Headhunters) and opens with dopey-faced, blood-soaked recycling plant manager Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) being arrested by sharp witted Detective Solor (Henrik Mestad) after he regains consciousness, shotgun in hand and surrounded by cops and corpses at the scene of a bloody shootout in a seedy strip club.
Questioned by Solor, we see Oscar's story unfold in flashback, as he reveals that he won 1.7 million krone on the football pools in a syndicate with three violent ex-con colleagues (Mads Ousdal as Thor, Arthur Berning as Billy and Andreas Cappelen as Dan) and that they all turned on each other once the cash was in hand.
Henrik Mestad is a lot of fun as the deeply suspicious, mindgame-playing cop and Kyrre Hellum's blank-faced performance is intriguing because you never know whether there's anything going on underneath or not. In addition, Martens keeps things ticking along at a decent enough pace and the violent scenes are impressively staged, while there are a couple of nice visual touches, particularly in regards to the Christmas tree machine at the factory.
The main problem is that none of the central characters are remotely likeable, so it's hard to care what happens to them. To that end, the structure of the film backfires, since you already know going in how they all end up and Oscar isn't charismatic or interesting enough for you to care about whether or not he gets arrested or ends up with the cash. On a similar note, the film feels hugely derivative throughout and if the point is that Oscar is making it all up and stealing from movies himself, then that point isn't made strongly enough while the characters themselves are surprisingly dull for this sort of film.
Films with this kind of narrated flashback structure more or less demand a clever Usual Suspects-style twist that completely takes the audience in; at the very least, the audience will be expecting it, so the film needs to have something good up its sleeve. As it is, Jackpot plants the suggestion of a twist but refuses to confirm it (imagine Usual Suspects without Spacey's fake limp) and the resulting ambiguity is much less satisfying.
Jo Nesbo's Jackpot is watchable enough but it's ultimately unsatisfying and the lack of likeable characters means it's nowhere near as much fun as any of the various bag-of-money thrillers it steals from.
Jo Nesbo's Jackpot (R16)