“Pioneer” reintroduces Wes Bentley in a film that stagnantly touches on a historical subject.
Cinematics(Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.)
“Pioneer” had a very interesting plot that has rich historical value. It is set in the 1980s in Norway as huge deposits of oil and gas are discovered in the North Sea. The historical period known as the “Norwegian Oil Boom” explores the danger and difficulties that came with the development of an underwater pipeline and more specifically one individual’s suspicions of corrupt actions.
With such a broad scope of historical significance, “Pioneer” tends to focus on the loss of one man’s brother in an underwater accident that he suspects to be related to the American’s mixture of breathing gas. Petter (Aksel Hennie) spends the entire film looking into this subject which shows promise of being interesting. Where it fails to hold interest is when Petter’s investigating overshadows “the big picture” and disconnects the audience from the setting and historical value.
From an acting standpoint, Aksel Hennie (Petter) and Wes Bentley (Mike) play their parts splendidly. Hennie conveys his emotions in such a way that the language barrier is almost broken down to the point of not needing subtitles. Throughout the film you can feel his panic, anxiety, and determination through his skills as an actor alone. Wes Bentley, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery but as he’s intended to be. His character is in constant conflict between his duty and his morals as shown throughout various scenes in the film. One moment he is completely unhinged and the next he is the voice of reason. It’s more than fitting with Wes Bentley’s persona throughout film.
From a cinematography perspective, I think that “Pioneer” was very well shot. The opening dive sequences were visually engaging yet had a robust feel to them which was very representative of the 1980s time period. While the film quickly left from sea to land, I feel that the camera work remained consistent with that transition. There was a light sepia tone that seemed to surround the film which kept the 1980s look and feel consistent throughout both environments.
While the plot seemed to suffer from lack of intrigue, I do feel that other cinematic elements that were not as prevalent deserved recognition. The acting and cinematography were two aspects that shined throughout the film but were unfortunately too overshadowed by a lack of character development and drawn out plot.
I have to say despite some great camera work and acting, “Pioneer” seemed to drag on about a subject that didn’t have the depth to carry the film. I found the opening scenes to be very entertaining based on both visuals and subject matter. The dive sequences were reminiscent to James Cameron’s “The Abyss” which caught my initial interest but left me disappointed when the majority of the story went to land.
The controversy surrounding the contents of the American gas mix for divers piqued my interest at first but as things became more dialogue heavy on just that particular subject, I found things to be very drawn out. I just couldn’t maintain that continued interest on such a static subject matter for such an extended period.
As for watching this film again, I would have to reiterate the point made about its entertainment value regarding a drawn out plot. Unfortunately, the subject matter was far too stagnant to dictate another viewing. I loved seeing Wes Bentley returning to the big screen after a long hiatus but even his ample performance and likability couldn’t draw me back in.
I would have to pass on watching this film again.
"Pioneer" had an underlying subject matter that had great historical value but the apparent subject matter was just too stagnant and drawn out. While the plot suffered from an unfortunate staleness, I will say that things were enjoyable from a cinematography and acting standpoint. It was nice to see Wes Bentley in a starring role with dialogue once again and I definitely enjoyed his performance and Aksel Hennie's performance, but they were not enough to carry the film.