PIONEER is set in the early 80?s, at the beginning of the Norwegian Oil Boom. Enormous oil and gas deposits are discovered in the North Sea and the authorities aim to bring the oil ashore through a pipeline from depths of 500 meters. A professional diver, Petter is obsessed with reaching the bottom of the Norwegian Sea. Along with his brother Knut he has the discipline, strength and courage to take on the world’s most dangerous mission. But a sudden, tragic accident changes everything. Petter is sent on a perilous journey where he loses sight of who’s pulling the strings. Gradually he realizes that he is in way over his head and that his life is at stake.
A tense and well directed thriller based on true events, this film had me glued to the screen throughout it’s duration. With the initial accident taking place minutes into the film’s opening and claiming Petter’s brother’s life, Petter’s investigation into what happened down there opens up a cover up which gets more and more serious the deeper he goes. Featuring some great performances from both the American and Norwegian cast with direction and editing keeping the film beating along at a steady pace makes this a recommended viewing.
Pioneer is presented on a Dual Layer DVD (with a file size that takes up 5.6GB) in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Even in standard definition (a Blu-ray is also available but wasn’t supplied for this review), it holds up pretty well. Opening up with grainy stock footage of actual offshore diving, The image on this DVD was clear throughout with no visible artifacts, banding, edge Enhancement etc. black levels held up especially well during the diving sequences with limited lighting and murky visuals. A very cold looking film as well due to it’s cinematography, the colours on show were rendered nicely and supported the film’s visual look.
Pioneer is presented with a single Norwegian / English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I was really impressed with this audio mix. The diving scenes had a tense feeling to them due to some great atmospheric effects like bubbles rising past the camera and echoing in the rear speakers. Waves crashing against the hull of the ship were thunderous and gave a lot of impact. The mainland scenes had some great directional effects throughout and certainly gave the score some impact with some discrete but powerful usage of LFE mixed into it. The dialogue was clear and precise throughout. The dialogue is a mix of English and Norwegian throughout and whilst this isn’t usually a problem, the subtitle stream had to stay on throughout the film which means the English dialogue is subtitled as well. With sections of dialogue in scene switching backwards and forwards between both languages, it can get quite annoying.
Apart from a few start up trailers, this disc contains no special features at all
Pioneer was an interesting and thrilling film to view. It’s direction and pacing made the film a taught and tense experience which made me want to research the facts behind the story. The audio and video quality was impressive for DVD (the Blu-ray version will of course be better) but the lack of bonus features is a disappointment. Certainly a recommendation to watch though