Jackpot: Tribeca Review

Jack Pot
Blood-spattered crime comedy benefits from whip-smart pacing and quirky Scandinavian attitude.

Magnus Martens' black comedy stars Kyrre Hellum as a man in police custody as the sole survivor of a strip club massacre.

NEW YORK — The kind of quick-witted, high-toned genre flick programs like Cinemania were made for, Magnus Martens's Jackpot is a black-comic ride once again demonstrating that sudden windfalls of cash aren't all they're cracked up to be. Though likely to attract remake-rights attention, the pic's success with such worn-out tropes would be tough to replicate, especially considering how much entertainment value comes via idiosyncratic performances from its Norwegian cast.

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In a twisty, flashback-reliant structure recalling The Usual Suspects, we slowly learn how Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) came to be in police custody as the sole survivor of a massacre in a strip club. The manager of a recycling company that employs ex-cons, he had the misfortune of joining a betting pool with killers, only to win a sum so large nobody would want to share it. But the double-crosses don't arrive predictably, and attempts to hide evidence of each betrayal lead to increasingly outlandish violence.

Director/screenwriter Martens handles the wild implausibilities spinning out from this premise more effectively than the makers of the current arthouse release Headhunters, also based on a story by Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo. He moves things along briskly and gets a wry, skeptical performance out of Henrik Mestad (as the detective investigating the murders) that's so off-kilter we don't need Fargo allusions -- a gag with the recycling plant's plastic-shredder one-ups that film's wood-chipper scene -- to tell us how seriously, or not, to take the action.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival, Cinemania
Production Company: Fantefilm fiksjon as
Cast: Kyrre Hellum, Mads Ousdal, Henrik Mestad, Arthur Berning, Andreas Capellen, Peter Andersson
Director-Screenwriter: Magnus Martens
Producers: Are Heidenstrøm, Martin Sundland
Director of photography: Trond Høines
Production designer: Lina Nordqvist
Music: Magnus Beite
Editor: Jon Endre Mørk
Sales: TrustNordisk
No rating, 82 minutes