Pioneer

"Very Good"

Pioneer Review


A palpable sense of menace infuses this slow-burning Norwegian thriller, which is based on shocking, unsettling real-life events. Anchored by a terrific central performance from Aksel Hennie (Headhunters), the film sometimes strains to force the true story into a standard conspiracy movie structure. But it still has a bracing sense of urgency.

Hennie stars as Petter, Norway's top deep-sea diver, who in the early 1980s is recruited by the state-owned oil company to work with the Americans to lay a pipeline on the ocean floor connecting the mainland with off-shore drilling platforms. But this is uncharted territory for divers who will be working up to 400 metres below the surface. And when a test dive takes a fatal turn, Petter isn't convinced it was an accident. He certainly doesn't trust American diver Mike (Wes Bentley), but then everyone else is just as shifty.

Intriguingly, filmmaker Skjoldbjaerg shoots this in a gritty 1980s style tinged with the increasingly frazzled Petter's tenuous grip on reality. Diving this deep does something to the brain, so perhaps this is all in his mind. But Hennie is so likeable that we struggle with him to work out the truth, which means travelling through a Hitchcockian thriller in which everyone seems to be trying to kill him. This is fiercely clever filmmaking that's only let down because it's too clever for its own good.

The main problem is that Skjoldbjaerg never provides any back-story, so the characters all remain elusive. Trying to keep track of how these people are connected and which ones might be trustworthy is no easy task, especially since the performances are so textured and complex. This may add to the film's general sense of unpredictability, but it's also distracting.

Fortunately, Petter's personal story is so involving that it carries us through to the alarming climax in which everything becomes all too clear. Indeed, history repeats itself as nations always become hugely wealthy by exploiting people and resources without regard for ethics or consequences. It's hardly surprising that George Clooney is already working on an American remake.

Watch 'Pioneer' Trailer



Pioneer

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th December 2014

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 18

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Erik Skjoldbjaerg

Producer: Erik Skjoldbjaerg, Hans Gunnarsson, Cathinka Nicolaysen, , Kathrine Valen Zeiner

Starring: Will Oldham as Father, Myles Brooks as Boy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.