Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Easy Money: Hard to Kill
on work release, convicted cocaine smuggler Johan “JW” Westlund seizes the
opportunity to get back to “work.” This was not always his world, but he will
find there is no going back to the upright, respectable existence he once led
in Babak Najafi’s Easy Money: Hard to
opens this Friday in New York.
were a lot of casualties at the end of the first Easy Money film, but somehow Mrado Slovovic survived, despite being
run-over by a car and shot at close range by Westlund. One might expect the
wheelchair-bound hitman to hold a grudge, but he and Westlund bond when they
become cellmates. It must be all that shared history. Once a promising business
student, Westlund lent his analytical skills to an up-and-coming coke syndicate
to subsidize his extravagant lifestyle. In retrospect, it was not such a great
plan for the future. Trying to go straight, Westlund develops a game-changing
stock-trading program, only to find during his first furlough his so-called
partner has double-crossed him.
put out, Westlund chucks in the work-release song-and-dance, arranging to break
Slovovic out instead. He might be paraplegic, but Slovovic is still one bad
cat. He also knows the daily routine of the Serbian mob’s unassuming money
launderer. While they work on their hasty
caper, small time South American trafficker Jorge and lowly Lebanese enforcer
Mahmoud are also making their desperate plays for survival. Naturally all three
alumni from the first film will come together in some fashion during the third
should be able to readily follow Hard to
Kill even if they did not see the franchise opener, but the constant parade
of faces that are supposed to be familiar will be more rewarding to those who
have. Regardless, HTK is slick,
stylish, and strangely multicultural, but hardly in a way that embraces global
fellowship. This is not a film that will have you humming “It’s a Small World,”
but it might scare you straight, unless you live in Colorado, where these sorts
of things are practically legal.
Kinnaman, the star of AMC’s The Killing and
the RoboCop reboot so coincidentally
opening just before HTK, is suitably
flinty as Westlund, but Dragomir Mrsic out hardnoses everyone as Slovovic,
while still expressing his acute disappointment in himself as a father.
Likewise, Fares Fares makes a compelling sad sack as the luckless Mahmoud.
Money: Life Deluxe has already released in Sweden, it is a safe bet anyone
who survives the second cut will be back to try their luck a third time. HTK does not break a lot of new ground,
but the intriguing relationship that develops between Westlund and Slovovic elevates
it above more routine Scandinavian crime dramas. Recommended for those who
enjoy gangster films with healthy doses of violence and irony, Easy Money: Hard to Kill opens this
Friday (2/14) in New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Scandinavian Cinema, Sequels