I've never made a secret of how much I have enjoyed Scandinavian drama both in the cinema and on the TV but Swedish born director Daniel Espinosa's breakthrough film is really something special. A massive box office success in its own country, it’s based on a best selling novel by criminal defence lawyer Jens Lapidus adapted by Maria Karlsson it's a gripping account of contemporary Stockholm’s underworld, looking closely at the dark underbelly of organised crime.
Johan Westlund (Joel Kinnaman) known as JW is a poor but bright economics undergraduate from a working class background who writes term papers for richer scholar’s, he also drives an illegal cab at night to earn extra money to allow him to hob nob with the Swedish jet set whom he aspires to join. He falls in love with an upper class girl and is soon lured into a world of crime. Jorge (Matias Padin Varela) is a fugitive who has escaped from prison and is planning to import a massive cargo of coke and then disappear for good. He’s on the run from the both the police and the Serbian mafia, whose hit man Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) is forced to take care of his young daughter when social services removes her from the care of her drug addicted mother.
Why is most of Scandinavian crime drama so good? I don't think there's an easy answer but if we take Snabba Cash (Easy Money) (2010) as an example we can analysis it as follows. Its thrilling, entertaining and well paced, with a totally absorbing story line involving a drug war between Muslims and Serb's. The acting is totally convincing and the characters are believable. This is not your standard police procedural and there's far more to it than some of the American crime dramas including the fact that even villains can have family ties and failing banks can be taken over by criminals!
Incidentally for some utterly ridiculous reason Warner Bros intend to remake the film? But the good news is that there are two sequels, one already released and another in the pipeline so we won't have to wait long for more helpings of this first rate Swedish crime drama.
Did you know that ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity’ are the same word in Chinese?