Take a Drink: for each virtual gravestone
Take a Drink: for snowplowing
Take a Drink: for blinking lights
Take a Drink: for racism
Take a Drink: for the Big City
Do a Shot: for Snow & Blow
Do a Shot: “Fruit Loops!”
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
The respected older actor kicking ass genre has become a bona fide career move these days, even if it’s only really worked for Liam Neeson (and Denzell, because Denzell does what he wants). Sorry, Sean Penn, Kevin Costner, et al.
Stop it Nicolas Cage. You’re not even old!
Well, you can add Stellan Skarsgard to that first, short list. Stop me if this sounds familiar. Skarsgard is just a regular snow plow operator, recently awarded Citizen of the Year, but then his son gets caught in, and killed by a drug smuggling ring. Stellan don’t play that shit, and begins to cut a bloody swath through Norway’s criminal underworld.
Comparing In Order of Disappearance to the Takens of the world is a bit disingenuous, because this movie is playing at a different, far higher level than that. It’s got a wicked dark sense of humor and, even though it’s got plenty of cathartic violence, it’s much more focused on character, often creating fully realized folks with just a few brushstrokes and uniformly strong performances.
Skarsgard is great, playing the stereotypical emotionally stunted Scandinavian. When his son dies he finds himself unable to cope with his feelings, setting them aside to focus wholly on revenge. His wife closes off at this, and is soon gone, giving him even more time to hunt down everyone involved with his now wrecked life. Pal Sverre Hagen (Kon-Tiki) plays a perhaps just slightly too over the top drug kingpin obsessed with healthy living, modernist architecture, and simmering hate, particularly for his son’s mother.
Impulse control is not his strong suit.
The always welcome Bruno Ganz plays a Serbian (not Albanian!- a very overt Taken joke, there) mob Godfather who’s as adorable as he’s cold-blooded. Force Majeure‘s Kristofer Hivju makes a brief but memorable appearance, but for my money Anders Baasmo Christiansen (also Kon-Tiki, told ya every Scandinavian) is tops. His look, mannerisms, and sad-sack eyes all are incredibly reminiscent of Philip Seymour Hoffman, and there’s even a glimmer of his titanic talent in Christiansen’s performance. His character adds a late, significant wrinkle, one of many layers Kim Fupz Aakeson’s script progressively reveals, leading up to a bloody climax and an enigmatic final punchline.
Director Hans Petter Moland has style to spare. As much as the script evokes the Coens, the stylism shows somebody’s been watching his Tarantino. Philip Ogaard’s cinematography is slick, the music is perfectly curated, and the fight choreography is brutal and concussive. No old-age obscuring fast cut nonsense here. A last raise of the glass to the unique way this film reflects the ever-increasing bodycount, and the surprising amount of humor the production design team brings to the film with its interior decorating choices.
I could go three beers, but I don’t wanna. The action beats are often highly predictable, but executed oh so well. There’s also not a little ethnophobia and blithe racism- perhaps a mirror held up to Scandinavian attitudes, and certainly a reflection of how large scale of assholes those characters are, but no more fun to hear.
My last and largest issue is how Skarsgard’s character is established. He wins “Citizen of the Year”, but turns into a merciless force of vengeance pretty much right after. A little more establishment of his regular guy persona at the start would have really played up the juxtaposition they were going for.
Sometimes it’s just impossible.
Imagine Taken, but with complexity, style, and a wicked sense of humor. Yeah, you want to see this.