“We can’t rush these people. Time is a Western thing. It means nothing to them.”
Having already seen A War, I had a good idea of the raw realism to expect from Tobias Lindholm’s previous film, in which the small crew of a Danish cargo ship are captured by Somali pirates, but I still found myself unprepared for the relentless tension. A Hijacking unfolds at pace, and the sense of time becomes lost with frequent time jumps through a crisis that spans several months. We experience events largely from the perspectives of two people: the ship’s cook who unwillingly becomes the go-between with his captors; and the company CEO back home, struggling with the weight of negotiating a hostage release, yet unwilling to divest the responsibility. This allows us to understand the matter-of-fact strategic advice provided by the company’s expert advisor balanced against the crew’s increasing sense of abandonment. Of particular note is the strange camaraderie that grows between the crew and their captors as both groups are essentially stranded together at sea, hoping for the same resolution.
“You are more than just a weapon. You have a soul — a ghost. When we see our uniqueness as a virtue, only then will we find peace.”
Ghost in the Shell is a cultural phenomenon that has been adapted from the original manga into animated films and TV series, but its first live action feature comes from the USA rather than Japan. The result is undeniably visually stunning with extensive CGI bringing its future tech to life and illuminating it with colourful hues. Yet the franchise’s central question proves an apt analogy for the film: beneath the flawless exterior of this glossy shell there is no soul, no emotional weight. Accusations of Hollywood whitewashing are not resolved by the mere fact that Major’s mind is revealed to have come from an ethnically Japanese woman. If the film’s tacit suggestion is that the Western ideal of a “perfect” designer body would invariably look white, it fails to engage with this at all. The film’s most inspired casting is the legendary “Beat” Takeshi Kitano as Major’s boss, Aramaki.