In Order of Disappearance Review: What’s Cooler than Being Cool…?


Director: Hans Petter Moland

Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson

Stars: Stellan Skarsgard, Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Kristofer Hivju, Bruno Ganz


Release date: December 23rd, 2014

Distributor: Madman Entertainment

Countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark

Running time: 115 minutes


 

4/5

Best part: The scatological humour.

Worst part: The female characters.

Ever tried finding a needle in a haystack? Difficult, isn’t it? Well, imagine looking for a cocaine brick in a snowstorm. Now that’s a frustrating endeavour! This strange dilemma/contemplative thought sums up Norwegian crime-comedy In Order of Disappearance. In a year of unfunny comedies, expansive blockbusters, and cumbersome Oscar hopefuls, This crime-comedy wants to be known simply as: “that little Scandinavian flick that could”. Hey, there is nothing wrong with that!

Stellan Skarsgard as Nils.

In order of Disappearance strives to call out and dissect Hollywood’s sanitized, sanction-heavy practices. In fact, it skewers everything from influential gangster/action flicks to Europe’s crumbling economic status. Sure, this isn’t the first crime-comedy with a mean streak. Boiling-pot satires In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths did this years ago. Enough with this movie’s searing viewpoints, what is it actually about? Well, to put it simply, it’s about everything and nothing simultaneously. This vague statement will become relevant whilst watching it. It follows a near-retirement slow plough driver, Nils (Stellan Skarsgard), dragging himself from one day to the next. Despite being awarded Citizen of the Year by his quaint hometown, he feels unfulfilled and underappreciated by his family. His life takes a shocking turn after his son dies of a suspected drug overdose. As we see in the first few minutes, his son crossed the wrong drug traffickers. From that point forward, Nils’ life spirals out of control. His wife succumbs to shock and rage, his work life becomes a meaningless chore, and his well-being is destroyed. Certain revelations, preventing Nils from ending it all, propel Nils to keep going.

Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen as Greven.

Determined to destroy those responsible, Nils carries out a layered private investigation of a local mob outfit and their Serbian rivals. In Order of Disappearance, from the opening hunter-becomes-hunted set-piece onwards, develops several questionable plot-lines and character traits. Nils, a reliable and submissive worker-bee, can suddenly stalk, trick, and murder vicious criminals without prior experience. The movie leaves several twists and turns without reasonable explanation. Despite said logic gaps, the narrative itself is just so fascinating! Like Nils, you are constantly on the look out for surprises. This crime-comedy delivers constant thrills whilst never talking down to its unsuspecting audience. Keeping us constantly engaged, It places certain affectations and ideas into the backgrounds of certain sequences. The Norwegian drug-runners, led by eccentric douche Greven (Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen), are comprised of blonde-haired, fashion-friendly, bloodthirsty badasses. These characters are given enough development and kooky traits to push the story along. In particular, it examines Greven’s inflated ego, vegan diet options, and modern art collections intensely. But hey, drug-traffickers and gangsters are people too.

“You Chinese are the Jews of Asia.” (Greven (Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen), In Order of Disappearance).

Bruno Ganz as Papa.

In Order of Disappearance shoots down modern genre conventions and pop-cultural stigmas in a fiery bloodbath of comedic jabs. Like Nils stalking his victims, this crime-comedy pits modern Hollywood crime/action flicks against those from other countries. Paying homage to Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, and Martin Scorsese, multiple scenes – in which henchmen delve into profound philosophical discussions – illustrate the movie’s intentions immaculately. It even rubs against the veteran-action-star trope. Nils’ sociopathic behavior repels us from the typical Liam Neeson/Denzel Washington/Keanu Reeves archetypes plaguing cinema screens today. Oddly enough, its comedic moments resonate more than the story or characters. The spirited direction and visual flourishes heighten the tension and profound emotional impact, giving its wacky moments greater impact. The slapstick sequences, hyper-violence, and witty dialogue add to the movie’s ever-lasting, self-referential glow. The movie lets its characters off the leash – henchmen frolic in the snow before their mission commences; Greven and his ex-wife’s quarrels become increasingly silly and idiotic; two homosexual gangsters seek to dispel common misconceptions. Somehow, it’s all in good taste.

Above all else, Skarsgard’s magnetic performance, as the deadly third-wheel, elevates this spirited crime-comedy. The top-tier character-actor, known for supporting roles in everything from Thor to Melancholia, excels as the silent yet soulful avenging angel. Thanks to its charismatic performances, insightful references, and attention to detail, this crime-comedy is a genre-bender willing to place Hollywood and Scandanavian crime-thriller on the chopping block.

Verdict: A fun and ferocious crime-comedy. 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review – Fincher’s Finesse


Director: David Fincher

Writer: Steve Zaillian (screenplay), Steig Larsson (novels)

Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard


Release date: December 20th, 2011

Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures

Country: USA, Sweden

Running time: 158 minutes


 

4½/5

Best part: The atmospheric direction.

Worst part: The twists.

Having only been two years since the release of the acclaimed Swedish adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) has used his gritty, low grade visual style and themes describing decaying humanity, to create an even more affecting and alluring version than the original.

Daniel Craig.

In a case of journalistic integrity gone awry, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) has been shamed, charged and fined after losing a libel case to a corrupt businessman. Trying desperately to clear his name while ignoring his recent downfall, he is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), retired CEO of Vanger Industries, to investigate the missing persons case of Vanger’s niece Harriet, who disappeared almost 40 years ago. With Henrik convinced that one of his extended family is responsible and with the possibility of incest and ritualistic murder, Blomkvist must use everything at his disposal to solve this case. Hot on his tail is the gothic yet vulnerable Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), hired to run detailed  background  check on Blomkvist. After discovering her intrusive behaviour, and unbeatable investigative and computer hacking abilities, he hires her to help solve the case and cases of other women murdered in the area. Tensions are raised between the two of them as both the investigation and their emotions reach boiling point.

Rooney Mara.

In this quick-fire American remake of the first in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, Fincher injects his themes and visual style into this story of graphic depictions and emotional explorations. His decayed look at murder from a psychological perspective and the world of investigative journalism is reminiscent of his earlier work; in making the viewer both disgusted and intrigued at the same time. The sparse lighting, bleak colour pallet; featuring a particular use of green, and the grungy opening credit sequence accompanied  by Led Zepplin’s Immigrant Song make this recently adapted story a strong statement of Fincher’s creativity. Fincher directs the violence and rape scenes with a greater intensity than in the original. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo delves deeper into the method behind the madness as we see the depths of the human psyche and its sometimes severe descent into hell. Fincher’s focus on the reactions of these atrocities delivers a greater emotional impact. The rape scene involving Salander and her handler is both thought provoking and disgusting based on its constant documentation of the emotions displayed. During the ordeal, the camera focuses to certain extent on Salander’s face, showing her as both a deeply scarred and tough personality. Despite some of the plot-twists becoming slightly anti-climactic towards the end, Fincher’s adaptation benefits from strong pacing, a gritty, creepy score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who also scored Fincher’s The Social Network), the beautiful cinematography capturing the cold, inhumane conditions of both the murders and the snow covered Swedish setting, and an extraordinary level of character depth.

“Hold still. I’ve never done this before, and there will be blood.” (Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Christopher Plummer.

Unlike the original, in which both lead characters were interesting but still could have been defined to a greater extent, Fincher delves deeper into the state of affairs surrounding Blomkvist and his struggle to fit into present society after the trial, and Salander’s disturbed personality and anti hero status. Daniel Craig delivers another great performance, adding a lot of emotion through his facial expressions as well as his convincing delivery. While Rooney Mara delivers an oscar calibre performance that will be remembered as both a symbol of female empowerment and an individual going against the system in almost every way. Her frail physical structure covered in changing hair styles, bleached eyebrows, piercings, tattoos and black eye liner creates a distressing, alien look for Salander, adding to her lack of both normality and socially acceptable attributes more so than Noomi Rapace’s portrayal in the original. Her scene of physical torture upon her cantankerous handler is the focal point, showing a vengeance and lack of humanity reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Her revenge-fuelled fantasies and feminine charms, highlighted at the end of film, deliver a very damaged yet human portrayal. Her physicality and experimentation with sexual desires defining her inner angst makes Mara’s performance an absolute stand out.

Fincher having his chance to adapt this bleak and brutal material has worked. Despite copying many scenes from the original, he has still created an impressive work of art that rivals his other films. With The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the blackened world of conspiracy and malice has seen his characters conform to their own set of rules through their frightening actions.

Verdict: A visceral and enthralling american remake.