Easy Money. (15.)
Directed by Daniel Espinosa.
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Matias Varela, Dragomir Mrsic, Lisa Henri, Mahmut Suvakci and Lea Stojanov. Swedish with subtitles. 125 mins
Often when people get their first big Hollywood jobs, their CVs and references only get to be inspected some time later. That Espinosa directed last year’s Denzel Washington thriller Safe House while Kinnaman was in the US remake of The Killing and will be the lead in the Robocop remake is the reason we are getting to see this decently entertaining Swedish crime drama from 2010.
Snabba Cash to give it its Swedish title is Hollywood slick but much less frantic. It appreciates that taking the time to explore your characters and allowing the audience to see the world through their eyes can be as gripping as any car chase. This is not to suggest that it is ponderous; the camera is rarely still and the soundtrack has few moments of quiet. The first hour takes such pains to grip audiences with the reality of its world it’s a shame some of that is frittered away with some melodramatic turns towards the end.
The film follows the interconnecting paths of three characters in the build up towards a major drug deal. Mrado (Mrsic) is an enforcer for a Serbian gang whose 24/7 profession life is complicated by being forced to look after his daughter; Jorge (Varela) is a Spanish criminal who breaks out of prison in the first scene to organise the big cocaine shipment; J.W, (Kinnaman) is a gifted but poor economics student who sees a chance to become a part of the wealthy Stockholm elite when an Arab criminal asks him to launder the profits of a cocaine business.
Erect, imposingly tall and with immaculately floppy hair, Kinnaman’s J.W. is the epitome of a Merchant Ivory leading man. If he’d been born in England 20 years earlier he could’ve spared Hugh Grant a heap of tabloid grief. The film’s key scene is a meeting between J.W. and the disdainful owner of a failing establishment bank. It’s two refined, well dressed, white men in an office, an image of respectability but both know that J.W. is a Trojan horse whose deal will leave this bastion of Nordic hierarchy in the hand of Middle Eastern criminals. The banker is disgusted that a man who looks like he could play Thor is fronting a barbarian invasion; but he still makes a deal on the side to ensure that he’ll still be alright.