Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Aksel Hennie, Wes Bentley, Stephen Lang, Stephanie Sigman, Jonathan LaPaglia, Ane Dahl Torp, Jørgen Langhelle, André Eriksen, Jerker Fahlström, Arne Lindtner Naess, David A. Jørgensen
Written by: Nikolaj Frobenius, Hans Gunnarsson, Cathinka Nicolaysen, Erik Skjoldbjaerg, Kathrine Valen Zeiner
Directed by: Erik Skjoldbjaerg
MPAA Rating: R for language
Language: Norwegian, English, with English subtitles
Running Time: 111
Date: 12/05/2014
IMDB

Pioneer (2014)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Dive By

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Helmed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg, the man in charge of the original Insomnia (1997), which was remade by Christopher Nolan in 2002, Pioneer is a serviceable, enjoyable thriller. It attempts to capture the feel of a 1970s-era paranoid conspiracy movie, and it succeeds in tone, even if the plot isn't quite so air-tight. The character takes illogical risks in some cases, and in other cases, simply overlooks logic. It even incorporates some very shopworn plot turns.

In the 1970s, a rich oil deposit is discovered in the North Sea off the coast of Norway. Teams of Norwegian and American divers begin training to withstand the pressure of the more than 300-meter depths. Among them are Petter (Aksel Hennie) and his brother, family man Knut (Andre Eriksen). While below, something happens to Petter's gas mix, and he blacks out at a crucial moment, causing an accident and killing his brother. Racked with grief and guilt, Petter begins investigating. He discovers the man in charge of the gas suffered from seizures, but quickly discovers that it's not that simple and that the conspiracy goes much deeper. Soon his life is in danger and he realizes he must dive once more to discover the truth.

It's not exactly the kind of movie that keeps the audience guessing and on the edge of its seat; viewers are more likely to be all over the place. However, the diminutive, slightly balding Aksel Hennie is an appealing lead, an antidote to dull, handsome action heroes, and the rest of the cast is likewise appealing, including Americans Stephen Lang (Avatar) and Wes Bentley (who uncouthly provides most of the filthiest language). And Skjoldbjaerg's sultry, gritty atmosphere helps smooth over some of the flaws.

Mangolia's Blu-ray release features excellent audio, mastered in DTS. The picture is already rather muted with an absence of bright colors, but the fine, strong transfer highlights the movie's metallic surfaces, as well as the bold underwater photography. Extras include five short behind-the-scenes featurettes, (27 minutes total), a short "making of" documentary (8 minutes), interviews with Stephen Lang and Stephanie Sigman (6 minutes), an AXS TV preview, and trailers for other Magnolia releases.

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