Wednesday, February 12, 2014
EASY MONEY: HARD TO KILL is better than the original -- from which, if you recall my coverage of that earlier and overpraised twaddle, you might not expect much. Yet this sequel indeed delivers the goods you'll want from a smart, tight crime thriller -- Scandinavian variety. Interestingly enough, the sequel simply carries right on from the point at which the former film ended: with much of the cast dead, dying or injured and our near-hero caught by the authorities.
Babak Najafi, who outshines the filmmaker of the original (Daniél Espinosa) by leaps and bounds, sticking to immediate action and character over tired (and, as it turns out, unnecessary) history, love and class clichés, and making that fast action coincide with character. The hints Najafi gives us of background and history proves better than the lengthy and obvious scenes used by Espinosa -- and thankfully there is nothing here nearly as silly as the chase-by-city-bus scene, followed by the even worse "Oh, look, I've just conveniently found a gun here in the bushes!" moment. My spouse, who watched the movie with me and had not seen the original, found it completely understandable and utterly riveting. I felt the same, while also realizing how well Part Two builds from Part One. (Part Three, with yet a new director/co-writer on board, has apparently already been released in Scandinavia and The Netherlands, so we'll eventually see how this crime tale trio turns out.)
Joel Kinnaman, above, who is just debuting today as the new Robocop) in prison for his offenses but getting a day out of the can for good behavior. A smartypants computer maven, he's been working on new software that will be a real boon to the banking industry.
Matias Varela, above); and a higher-up-in-the-criminal food-chain, Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic, below).
Fares Fares, below and on the receiving end of that gun), up to his ears in criminal debt, takes on more importance. All four men are striving to find a place for themselves and/or provide for their families: JW tries to rise above his lower-class roots, while the other three are immigrants from various places. None has managed to join the "mainstream," and while the movie makes clear Scandinavia's forward-looking stance on immigration, it also shows how difficult it can be for immigrants, once resident in their new country, to be able to truly "join" it. Consequently, being all-too human, our fellows end up thrashing about in crime and betrayal, while trying to do the right thing -- occasionally, at least.
Madeleine Martin, below, left) bound by sex trafficking and her nasty captors, who makes a move for freedom at precisely the time when one of our men is about to be eliminated. While this is indeed coincidental, the scene is handled so well that you'll barely have time to draw a breath.
Cinedigm, which has made a lot of good choices of late -- opens Friday, February 14, in New York City at the Cinema Village. Elsewhere theatrically? No idea. But you can, simultaneous with its theatrical release, view it via iTunes and many local VOD platforms.