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May 18 14 9:06 AM
Jun 6 14 8:29 PM
Before he brought his enigmatic presence to American audiences in AMC’s The Killing and the recent remake of Robocop, Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman found stardom in Europe thanks to the smash hit Easy Money. The 2010 Swedish crime drama, adapted from a novel by Jens Lapidus, cast Kinnaman as JW, an intelligent but misguided business student from the wrong side of the tracks who becomes a drug smuggler in order to afford the wealthy lifestyle of his upper-class peers. The diverse group of criminals he gets mixed up with includes Chilean Jorge (Matias Varela), Serbian Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) and Lebanese Mahmoud (Fares Fares). The first film ends with JW in prison, but that doesn't prevent him from getting into further trouble inEasy Money: Hard to Kill, the film’s 2012 sequel.
Based on the second book in Lapidus’ bestselling trilogy, Easy Money: Hard to Kill picks up with JW nearing the end of his sentence and ready to start over. He has spent his time in prison developing new software for stock trading that he plans on pitching to investors alongside his old business school buddy Nippe, and becoming surprisingly good friends with old enemy Mrado. However, after Nippe betrays him and steals the software, JW quickly loses all hope at attempting a clean, crime-free existence. He teams up with Mrado to plan an attack on crime boss Radovan’s accountant so that they can obtain enough money to start new lives. Naturally, things grow a lot more complicated--and violent--than the two men planned, especially when Jorge, Mahmoud and others are thrown into the fray.
The most compelling moments in the film deal with the ethnic and class issues wrestled with by the majority of the characters, all of whom suffer from some form of discrimination from the upper-class Swedish establishment; even JW, one of the surprisingly few Swedes among the series’ main cast, suffers from being too poor to earn the respect of his better-off countrymen and get ahead in the world. Meanwhile, the immigrant characters rant with frustration about their friends and family who have chosen to “serve the Swedes” rather than fight a system that they believe suppresses their ability to succeed. These scenes raise interesting questions about why certain people turn to crime and how they justify their illegal actions even as the body count continues to rise. Unfortunately, they are few and far between; instead, the majority of Easy Money: Hard to Kill comprises the usual, paint-by-numbers plot points one encounters in such thrillers, as well as some overly dramatic slow-motion montages that will elicit more eye-rolls than interest. It’s all very Guy Ritchie-lite, replacing the sharp, snarky humor that makes his Cockney crime movies so entertaining with a dour Nordic scowl. Despite the mostly bland material, Kinnaman does his best with what is given to him, and turns out a charismatic, sympathetic and downright sexy performance as JW. His gritty turn will go a long way towards keeping you engaged even as you start to wish that everyone else in the movie was a little easier to kill.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
The only bonus included on the Blu-ray release of Easy Money: Hard to Kill is the film’s trailer.
"Easy Money: Hard to Kill" is on sale March 11, 2014 and is not rated. Crime, Drama. Directed by Babak Najafi. Written by Maria Karlsson, Peter Birro, Babak Najafi, Fredrik Wikstrom Nicastro. Starring Dragomir Mrsic, Fares Fares, Joel Kinnaman, Matias Varela.
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