Packed full of nailbiting tension and clever twists, Jackpot is another example of the Scandinavian cultural renaissance in recent times. Although lacking the finesse and impact of writer Jo Nesbø's previous cinematic adaptation Headhunters, the entertaining formula remains the same - botched crime, macabre humour and plenty of gory violence.
Deploying a narrative structure that channels The Usual Suspects, the story of an ill-fated football betting syndicate is conveyed via flashback sequences as bewildered murder suspect Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) is interviewed by amusingly deadpan detective Solør (Henrik Mestad).
"We found you an hour ago under a massive woman," Solør tells Oscar at the beginning of the movie, recounting the corpse-strewn carnage the police discovered at a sex shop. Details of previous events emerge from the suspect's mouth, outlining the malevolent machinations of a quartet of workers at a Christmas tree factory - all desperate to take the huge winnings of a group bet for themselves. But how far can we trust Oscar's version of events?
Fortunately there's no Suspects-style grand reveal in which the noticeboard behind the detective plays a crucial part. After layering on the intrigue, Jackpot's resolution is effortlessly smart and rewards the viewer who pays close attention to detail and immerses oneself in the narrative.
A prime reason for the success of Scandinavian crime shows such as The Killing and The Bridge is their ability to unexpectedly conjure up a chuckle at the most unexpected moment. Jackpot takes this trait to an extreme, with one hilarious sequence revolving around a messy, wall-splattering bout of body chopping!
Scintillating exchanges between characters and the farcical scenarios they become embroiled in are typical of Nesbø's work, which crucially finds a tone that never leaves a nasty feeling - despite the graphically depicted horrors on show.
A riveting crime thriller, Jackpot excels through its strong writing, appealing performances and unobtrusive yet inquisitive direction from Magnus Martens. After the plethora of woeful gangster thrillers churned out by the British film industry since the success of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, it's clear that the genre belongs to Northern Europe these days.