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In Order of Disappearance
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When a father (Stellan Skarsgård), uncovers his son's murderer, he begins to unravel. Once an upstanding citizen, Nils embarks on a blood-thirsty quest for revenge that escalates into a full-blown international gang war. With darkly funny humor reminiscent of Tarantino and The Coen Brothers, Nils finds himself caught up in a world not his own surrounded by drug traffickers, con artists and kingpins, in order to bring his son's murderers to justice.
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Set in the sparse, blindingly white snowfields of the Scandinavian winter, Hans Petter Moland's violent, satirical crime thriller is assembled with such formal rigor and visual poetry that it throws into high relief the messy, sweaty, almost repulsively human drama that unspools.
The film's knockout power is due in no small part to the contributions of cinematographer Philip Øgaard and leading man Stellan Skarsgård, who have worked with the writer-director on two of his best-known features, A Somewhat Gentle Man (2010) and Aberdeen (2000).
Though he's backed by a strong ensemble cast that includes Peter Andersson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Danish star Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Borgen), and German-film star Bruno Ganz (The American Friend), Skarsgård dominates the screen with his 6-foot, 4-inch frame, his outsize rage and grief, and the gigantic snowplow truck he drives.
Skarsgård plays Nils, a successful small-town businessman. His world comes crashing down when his twentysomething son turns up dead in Oslo of a drug overdose. Convinced the boy wasn't a drug user, Nils digs deeper, only to find that the young man was murdered on orders from a local thug acting on behalf of Oslo's new drug kingpin, the Count (Pål Sverre Hagen), a spoiled rich kid who is heir to a chain of bakeries.
Uncovering this bit of information involves capturing, torturing, and killing a chain of bad guys, each higher up on the mobster totem pole than the last.
The killings are gruesome, often absurd events, but Moland's camera doesn't fetishize violence by lingering on the gore and the blood. Nils carefully rolls up each body in chicken wire and throws it off a cliff into a massive waterfall.
(Chicken wire? Nils is really proud of the idea: Unlike plastic or tarp, chicken wire lets fishes through from day one so they can eat up the body before it gets all bloated up and floats to the surface. What's more, he explains, chicken wire is heavier than plastic and won't decompose for years, so it'll keep the body in place.)
Like the Coen brothers' best flicks, In Order of Disappearance gets its gruesomely comic momentum from a domino effect of unintended consequences put into motion by the hero's actions.
The violent whirlwind Nils unleashes sucks in a colorful cast of characters, including a retired mobster known as Wingman (Andersson), a Japanese Danish hit man familiar to clients as the Chinaman (David Sakurai), and, eventually, Scandinavia's top Serbian drug lord, known to all as Papa (Ganz).
Operatic, absurdist, and scathing, Moland's story rages on with tremendous force and speed, never slowing down for extraneous junk like backstories, explanations, or tiresome exposition.
In Order of Disappearance will no doubt invite comparisons to similarly stylized, violent black comedies by Quentin Tarantino and the Coens.
Yet, like 2011's murder farce Headhunters by Moland's Norwegian compatriot Morten Tyldum, In Order of Disappearance has an utterly unique feel, a certain Scandinavian crispness that's impossible to duplicate.
What starts out as a kidnapping, quickly turns into a murder, and from there it just keeps on going. This movie is in Norwegian with English sub-titles. Don't let the sub-titles stop you from seeing this movie (if you're concerned about not keeping up), as they are quite good at making the subtitles keep up with the dialogue. (Some foreign movies aren't that good at it.) There are so many scenes that will have you cracking up laughing at things that are being said or done, and yet they are completely incongruous. The comic timing is great, the acting superb, and it will leave you glad that you watched it.
Warning, if you don't like violence of any kind, then this movie is not for you. If you are able to watch it in the context of what the movie is about and not let it bother you, we think you will be glad you watched it. Really great movie. We love Scandinavian movies.(Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish-haven't seen too many Finnish, but we might like those as well.)
Top international reviews
Remade by the same Director for the American market (as "Open Pursuit") with Liam Neeson (Hollywood's answer to Stellan Skarsgard!) in the lead role, you're much better to watch this original version. The Scandinavian's dark sense of humour is far closer to ours than the Americans - the acting's better, the scenery's better and hearing that lovely lilting Norwegian language is much better than any American accent (I could listen to the Count saying "Fruit Loops" forever!).
Yes, it is a bit rough around the edges (production wise) but the quirkiness of the film (complete with an on going, on screen body count) is what makes the movie a gem.
Skarsgård's character is out to avenge his son's death by a drug lord and being a snowplow operator in a land of snow he does it with ice cold revenge. Even if it takes body after body after body. (Drug Lords have a lot of people that work for them).
It is as much a comedy as it is a "revenge" flick and maybe that is why Hollywood came knocking to have Moland direct Liam Neeson in the remake.
Moland should be proud of the original; this film, even though it will take the remake (with Neeson) to grab the attention of those film viewers who would never dare go near a subtitle.
Having said that it's got to be better than the American remake that's coming down the pipe.
Usual nice touches with 'family issues' and almost believable action sequences (unlike Hollywood, not over-the-top).
The leading bad guy was a little 'too out there' for my taste but amusing nonetheless..
The main characters are played by actors of exceptional talent. Do not miss this gem.