Tuesday, 9 September 2014

SHORT REVIEW: In Order of Disappearance (2014)

This review appeared on The Upcoming website here.

‘A Scandinavian crime film’ and a ‘Crime-comedy in the vein of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers’ are two of the least appealing descriptions in modern cinema. Such things are now ten a penny and rarely worth sitting through. However, In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten) manages to transcend these simplistic descriptions by being, well, good.

After his son is murdered by gangsters for something that he did not do, his father Nils (Stellan Skarsgård) decides almost immediately to take revenge. Despite there being nothing in his past to suggest that he should be any good at this kind of thing, he proves remarkably able. It is not long before kingpin Greven (Pål Sverre Hagen) takes notice. However, his inability to figure out who it is that is killing his men leads to a series of further misunderstandings and more bloodshed.

The last high body count gangster comedy with arthouse cachet was the late Aleksey Balabanov’s tiresome The Stoker, so there does seem to be little precedent for the success of a film like In Order of Disappearance. Yet it does. Aakeson and Moland seem to have decided to shove in all of the tropes of crime cinema. The story goes along at a very fast pace – writer Kim Fupz Aakeson and director Hans Petter Moland are either much too eager to get to the shootouts or they are mocking the too familiar plot points of this kind of film. The film is slightly mocking throughout, with lots of stupid laughs. Characters appear only to very quickly be dispatched and the intertitles displaying the names of those just killed along with the symbol of their respective religions are a constant presence. The film largely maintains an off-kilter and unpredictable feel, and it plays out with great verve.

Sadly, it has no characterization whatsoever. Skarsgård is given very little to do throughout and most of the other characters are barely discernible beyond slight details speedily presented and tangential conversations about the joys of Norwegian prisons and how no country has both sunshine and welfare.

Though the film is amusing throughout and quite a good parody of its genre, which is too often used as a simple framework for gruesome violence and bad writing, it is difficult to work out why it exists. It is a good deal of fun, but the film really could have used a point.

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