Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. In Magnolia Pictures new release, PIONEER, we find a story based on true events that is both disturbing and heart-pounding. The film is based upon the scientific and political race to get a group of deep sea divers to 500 meters; a feet never even attempted prior. An American Team and a Norwegian team train side by side and the best men win, or so they think. Petter (Aksel Hennie) and his brother are part of the Norwegian team chosen to pursue the dive which would ultimately allow Norway to build an oil pipeline. After a tragedy during their first real attempt to dive, Petter is thrust into a conspiracy so deep, it is astounding to think that any of this actually happened. Though, if you know anything about international politics, you might think twice.
The film takes place in the 70’s and there is no mistaking it based upon the muted colors used throughout. The handheld camera work and incredible story line keeps you off balance and constantly guessing. You will sit up and pay attention throughout. The score and sound editing in general are key to sustaining the suspense factor. It is somehow jarring and entrancing, ramping up the paranoia factor to the nth degree. The underwater shots are stunning especially the use of POV cinematography. The consuming feeling of both wonder and claustrophobia is overwhelming.
Aksel Hennie is captivating. He has a passionate ambition that resonates from the very beginning. He might not be someone you would peg as an action star archetype but what this actor endures is something to be applauded and recognized for future roles. I want to see more of Aksel Hennie.
PIONEER will keep you on your toes. Is it a cover up? Did this really happen? If the real story anything like the film, it’s terrifying.