A version of this review appeared in The Age, August 2, 2012.
These days, any old Scandinavian crime story can apparently be marketed as quality product to the international public. This gruesome anecdote devised by the bestselling Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo in collaboration with director Magnus Martens is a unusually dreary example.
After a massacre at a strip club, the chief suspect, Oscar (Kyrre Hellum), is brought in for questioning. In a series of flashbacks, Oscar tells his tale to the eccentric Detective Solor (Henrik Mestad), whose high forehead, intent gaze and faint resemblance to Conan O'Brien create a false expectation of pratfalls just round the corner.
Actually there is a certain amount of knockabout comedy in the film, mostly involving corpses and severed body parts. Oscar turns out to work for a recycling plant that specialises in employing former crooks, not all of them successfully reformed. When he and his mates share a big win on the seasonal football pools, there are some predictably heated discussions about how to split the loot – and soon it's every man for himself.
When a film has to fall back on blatant padding to get near to ninety minutes, you know there's trouble. While the plot might do for a short film, it never becomes interesting or complex enough for a feature. Like a lesser Danny Boyle, Martens relies mainly on advertising shorthand to convey situation and character: the blokes celebrate their short-lived triumph by showering in beer and leaping up and down while stripped to the waist.