Jan 25, 2019
Popping on the Friday podcast for a bit to see how Andrew’s doing... Yes, I see... everything is great as usual. One might even say fantastic! Be sure to check out Andrew’s other reviews for “Terminal” (Episode #247), “Summer of ‘84” (Episode #289), “The Invisible Guest” (Episode #369), “You Might Be The Killer” (Episode #376), and last week’s review for “Bodied” (Episode #383). Got any suggestions from Fantastic Fest? Reach out to Andrew over social media and let him know. He’s seen quite a few of them!
Take it away, Andrew!
Hello film fans!
Andrew here – excited to be back this week with an icy thriller out of Norway. Though this film has a few years on it, now is the time to check it out. Liam Neeson’s latest vehicle, “Cold Pursuit”, hits theaters in a couple weeks and is apparently a loose remake of today’s picture. Typically, I am one of the people who believes that original foreign films are always superior to their later American remakes. I’m looking at you, Spike Lee’s “Oldboy” and Nic Cage’s “Wicker Man”. You get a pass, “Vanilla Sky”. So if you saw the trailer for “Cold Pursuit”, rolled your eyes at my man Neeson growling around in a snowplow, and thought to yourself...
“Is this some kind of a joke?!?!”
Well, you may want to check out the original first.
Today’s movie is “In Order of Disappearance”, the darkly comedic Norwegian crime thriller written by Kim Aakeson and directed by Hans Moland. “In Order of Disappearance” made its Texas debut at the 2014 Fantastic Fest, netting it the Best Director award for Moland, albeit in the very misleading category of Comedy. The film centers around Nils Dickman (spelled exactly like you’d think and yes, the script makes several jokes about this) (Stellan Skarsgård), a plow driver who has given years to his snowbound mountain community, keeping the roads clear of the massive drifts that dominate the landscape and maintaining the lone, tiny airport. When Dickman’s son is killed by a drug gang in a case of mistaken identity, he seeks vengeance from a network of dealers, bodyguards, hitmen and whoever else gets in his way.
Oh boy, this does sound like a Liam Neeson movie, doesn’t it?
Where this film succeeds is in taking a very straightforward plot and adding in elements that make it more engaging. The movie cuts away to title cards that track the occasional death, and serve to divide the story into chapters, not unlike the horror comedy “You Might Be The Killer” (Episode #376). Films like “Kill Bill” and Fantastic Fest’s bloody “The Night Comes for Us” (Episode #295) have that video-game quality, where the lead character fights his or her way through a variety of henchmen and a series of increasingly difficult boss battles, until they eventually face the Final Baddie. This film doesn’t stray too far from that recipe, but by injecting some dark humor, a snowplow on steroids, and a picturesque mountain setting, the story feels like an original.
For those who are reluctant to watch a foreign film, especially with an English-language remake about to become available, I understand where you’re coming from. Imported comedies lose some of the humor in the translation; dramatic films can be tedious or sleep-inducing; they’re a risky time investment. That being said, I’ll review many foreign films this year that I believe are worthy of your time, and I’ll tell you why. Most other countries don’t put out anywhere near the sheer volume of films as the United States does, aside from India (and believe it or not, Nigeria; go look that one up). So when a foreign film is strong enough to gain domestic distribution, you’re often getting the work of one of the very best filmmakers a country has to offer, on a lower budget than an American production, and with their artistic vision intact. With this film, you’re also getting some wonderful character actors led by Pål Hagen, considered one of Norway’s top young stars, playing jaded mob boss “The Count”. Wild, escapist films can feel more authentic when you’re unfamiliar with the setting or the cast, and that magic is captured well here.
What makes “In Order of Disappearance” fantastic?
Well, every once in a while, a film like this comes along, and reminds you that there are still new crime stories to be told, using all of the staple ingredients, and throwing in a few new twists. There’s nothing in this film that you haven’t seen shades of in a dozen other pictures, but the director manages to nail every aspect of the filmmaking process, resulting in a film that’s hard to fault. The only problem is that a movie shot this well should be seen in a theater, but I guess the upcoming remake, which was also directed by Moland, will have to suffice.
“In Order of Disappearance” (2014) is a delightful, thundering Scandinavian rampage. Fans of intelligent action fare starring aging Hollywood icons like Li- uh, Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger are going to love this one.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% CERTIFIED FRESH
One Movie Punch: 8.4/10
“In Order of Disappearance” (2014) is rated R and is currently streaming on Netflix.
Come back next week when I’ll be reviewing “Sleep Tight”, one of the more unsettling films I have ever seen. If you rent an apartment or if there are any other keys to your house floating around, prepare to be creeped out.