DVD Review: Jackpot

STUDIO: Doppelgänger/Music Box | DIRECTOR: Magnus Martens | CAST: Kyrre Hellum, Mads Ousdal, Arthur Berning, Andreas Cappelen, Henrik Mestad, Lena Kristin Ellingsen, Fridtjov Såheim
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 8/26/2014 | PRICE: DVD $24.95, Blu-ray $29.95
BONUSES: featurette
SPECS: NR | 82 min. | Action crime comedy | 2.35:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | Norwegian with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video | Overall

 

Three decades into the revisionist, ironic, meta­-gangster genre popularized by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown) and the Coen Brothers (A Serious Man, True Grit), our culture shows no signs of getting bored. At some point in the near future, something has to give, and someone will come along with a refreshing new take on this beloved American genre that will send future generations of film school graduates into a frenzy of imitation.

Until that happens, films like Magnus Martens’ Jackpot will continue to seep into our lives, promising fast­-paced, edgy action­-comedies about dopey men finding themselves in crazy, life­-or-death situations involving money and guns. Oh, and said films will also fail to deliver. The biggest thrill you might get out of this Norwegian offering might be in seeing which of your friends is the fastest at identifying what movie Jackpot is copying at any given time.

Jackpot movie scene

A soon-to-be-grisly scene from Magnus Martens’ Jackpot.

Let’s start with the plot: four co­workers go in on an impossible­-to­-win sports bet, they win, and then basically turn on each other out of greed. There’re countless movies based on similar premises, but I’ll go with an obscure Indian movie from 1981 called Naseeb that’s basically the Bollywood gangster film Tarantino never made. (And it appeared a decade before Tarantino came on the scene.) That film starts with the same exact premise as Jackpot, and take it to insanely fun heights—the opposite of what Jackpot manages to do.

Jackpot begins with a climactic shoot out, and spends the rest of the film reconstructing the details via the only surviving co­worker (named Oscar) who’s being interrogated by a skeptical detective trying to solve this puzzle—a framing device you might recall from The Usual Suspects. Oscar spins his Keyser Söze tale, which we’re led to believe is the truth, until… wait for it… a surprise twist ending hits, and you realize the last hour and a half of your life was a lie. By that point, unfortunately, the plot has become so ridiculous, the plausibility so questionable, and the characters so uninteresting, that you simply don’t care.

Along the way, our “heroes” feed some bodies into a Christmas tree-making machine á la Steve Buscemi and the wood­chipper in Fargo… and get into a Reservoir Dogs-­style Mexican standoff inside a porn shop, with predictable results. The plot is full of convenient coincidences and flimsy characters that lack any kind of moral depth, which would be forgivable if, at least, the dialogue were incredibly witty, or the plot full of brilliantly­-constructed situations, or… something. Jackpot really wants to impress you, but no amount of fun, raucous music montages will ever make it so.

Without characters to care about, great dialogue to enjoy, or an interesting story to hang your hat on, Jackpot’s adrenaline­-pounding “dark comedy” falls flat. It’s fairly painless to watch, but completely forgettable.

 

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About Memo

Memo Salazar attempts many things and accomplishes few. His big three are making films, music, and comics, but he'll throw photography, graphic design and film criticism into the ring for good measure. He'll even make you a hand-painted t-shirt if you ask nicely. You can track his activity here when there's nothing else to do at work.