Jackpot (2011)

Rating: C+

Dir: Magnus Martens
Star: Kyrre Hellum, Mads Ousdal, Henrik Mestad, Arthur Berning
a.k.a. Arme Riddere

Police are called to the scene of a bloody shootout at a strip-club; under the corpse of a fat, black stripper, they find Oscar (Hellum), clutching a shotgun and apparently the sole survivor. Back at the station, Detective Solar (Mestad) interrogates him, digging to find the truth about what happened. For Oscar’s tale is kinda unbelievable. It starts with him joining three other work colleagues in a football bet, based on a “can’t lose” system. Miraculously, it pays off, as they predict the final result of all 12 games.

However, the happiness is short-lived, because the other participants soon start to realize (even with a very limited grasp of math) that, while their winnings divided by four is a tidy sum, the winnings divided by three will be even more. And dead men don’t collect their share. It’s not long before the relatively-gentle Oscar finds himself up to his elbows in trouble and body parts. Or, at least, that’s what he’s telling Solar. But how much of that is actually true?

Martens cites the Coen Brothers as his main influence here, with nods to the work of Guy Ritchie, etc. But I think The Usual Suspects is another one which obviously was an inspiration, with Roger “Verbal” Kint/Oscar spinning their brutal yarn, for an audience who would do well not to take everything at face value. This, however, isn’t as smart, and the further it goes on, the less interesting it generally gets, since we’ve seen this all before, and there isn’t sufficient variation on the themes. Things here are at their best in the little details, such as the four men getting together to watch the final game, unaware that, on a whim, Oscar changed the result on their bet from the one predicted by the system.

One wonders how much was lost in translation: even the original title has a double or even triple-meaning, being the Norwegian name for French toast, but literally translates as “poor knights.” How do you translate that? Instead, what is left to come through, doesn’t have enough local flavour to separate this from its American/British inspirations. While hardly tedious and the time passes painlessly enough, it seems to be aiming low and leaves little in the way of any lasting impression.