‘Jackpot’ is an Entertaining Foray into Familiar Territory

by Brett Steinbrink on September 2, 2014

in Blu-ray/DVD Reviews,Reviews

[Minor Rock Fist Up]

“Damn, I wish I had a calculator right now.” We’re all guilty of thinking something like this at some point, but the consequences were surely never so dire as they are in Magnus Martens’ new film, Jackpot, out now on DVD.

Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) has woken up on the floor of a strip club clutching a shotgun in the midst of what was surely a pretty epic gunfight. It turns out that Oscar and three of his employees bet on a Rosenborg soccer match, and won over 1.7 million kroner, however, there’s a catch: They can’t seem to figure out how to split the money four ways.  Told through a combination of flashbacks while Oscar recounts his tale to a police detective. It’s through an unlikely and so unbelievable-it’s-true series of scenarios that Oscar has ended up as the sole recipient of the money, however, it remains to be seen whether he will walk free with it or not.

Jackpot is a film that’s visually a lot of fun to watch. You know just by looking at the cover of it that it’s got to be a dark comedy of some form, and it delivers on that note spectacularly. It’s loaded with visceral visual gags such as blood that keeps shooting out of a corpse. Making scenes like this humorous is no small feat, and when paired with the slightly confused, deadpan reaction of the character, they’re nothing short of hysterical. At its best, Jackpot does physical comedy nearly as well as Edgar Wright.

While a critic’s quote on the cover tries to praise Jackpot as a Norwegian Coen brothers film, I think it fits somewhere more between them and the slightly more whacky stylization of Quentin Tarantino. Jackpot combines the gritty, shades-of-gray characterizations of the Coen brothers, and couples it with the primarily non-linear style of Tarantino.  It doesn’t always work–it’s unclear a few times when you’re watching “now” or “then”–but when it does, the film is whirling by on the short, stylistic violence that Tarantino has become known for, while maintaining the crime capers and often-comedic stylings of the Coens. It’s clear to this reviewer that Martens knows his inspirations, and is playing to his strengths.

As I mentioned above, though, the film isn’t without its flaws.  Most notably is the constant questioning of math. This seems like something that can be easily ignored, however upon reflection, it’s actually quite important to the plot that nobody knows that they can just take five seconds to punch some numbers into a calculator. Characters die over this simplistic failure, and when the entire film is riding on something this simple, it cheapens the entire experience. This isn’t like the not-actually-a-plot-hole of having the hobbits fly an eagle into Mordor, this is like forgetting you own a sword to take on the journey.

On the DVD, you’ll find a ~4 minute making-of feature, standard with most releases.  It’s got a few blooper-esque moments, and is pretty funny, if nothing else. Again, like most releases, it also includes the theatrical trailer.

While Jackpot isn’t necessarily breaking any new ground here, I enjoyed the funky narrative and laughed enough that watching it again wouldn’t be a painful experience, and would even go so far as to recommend it to a friend. It’s not the greatest film of all time, but it certainly made for an entertaining afternoon watching it.

Brett is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, with dual degrees in Film & Media Studies and History. He enjoys watching sports, playing video games, and watching too many movies/television programs. If you’re looking for someone to quote “Friends” at you, give you a detailed outline of Franco-American foreign relations during the 1790′s, or make a lame pun… he’s probably your go-to guy.

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