THANKS TO THE WRITINGS of Sweden’s Stieg Larsson – whose GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO grew so powerful, Hollywood had to claim her – Scandinavian hijinks have never been more in vogue. This highly inventive romp, from neighbouring Norway, is also based on a best-selling tome (from writer Jo Nesbo), and comes loaded with lashings of black humour.
Smooth-talking crim Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie, above) is a corporate headhunter by day, struggling to meet the demands of a lavish lifestyle he bestows on gorgeous gallery-owner wife Diana (Lund), while bedding other beauties to nurse his raging ego. His solution to his financial woes is simple: covert art theft, from his wealthiest clients, replacing priceless works with fakes.
When Brown meets former Dutch mercenary Clas Greve (Coster-Waldau), though, matters begin to go awry. Greve owns one of the most valuable pieces of modern art, and Brown appears to be prepared to risk everything to steal it. Greve also offers more than a passing glance in Diana –and shows a curious interest in her husband – while Brown is distractedly plotting to finally enjoy financial security.
Before long, a jaw-dropping series of events leads Brown off his carefully manicured path, as his past threatens to catch up with him via a whirlwind series of comeuppances that, at times, will have you wincing (and at others, howling with laughter). He has, with Greve, picked the wrong client to mess with.
It’s little surprise, perhaps, that the producers of this film were also behind the Millennium Trilogy series based on Stieg Larsson’s books. Clearly, they now have Nesbo in their stable as the next big-screen thing.
Tonally, the film offers a deft blend of heist, humour and gore, which only wanes ever-so slightly when Brown’s denouement must, ultimately, come to a head. Overall, though, it’s a super-slick thriller that doesn’t let up, with exceptional performances all round. Make sure you catch it before the inevitable US remake rears its head.
Critical Rating: 8/10.
First published in The Sun-Herald.