mon 24/06/2024

Easy Money | reviews, news & interviews

Easy Money

Easy Money

Crime pays very badly in multi-layered Swedish thriller

In pursuit of the high life: Joel Kinnaman as the recklessly ambitious JW

Based on Jens Lapidus's novel Snabba Cash (great title, even if it is meaningless to English-speakers), Easy Money is yet further evidence of the allure of the Scandi way of looking at the world. It's ostensibly a crime thriller, featuring healthy doses of violence and drug-dealing, but equally it's an examination of class warfare, divided loyalties and racial tension.

It all adds up to a portrait of Stockholm and Swedish society which blows open comfortable assumptions about Scandinavia being some kind of benign social paradise.

It opens at the gallop with a nifty jailbreak sequence, as Jorge (Matias Padin Varela, pictured below right) legs it nimbly over the wire with the aid of knives wedged into his shoes and makes a dash for freedom in a waiting car. It's a successful getaway, but Jorge's "freedom" is circumscribed by the bad company he keeps. He falls in with a cocaine-smuggling gang led by Abdulkarim (Mahmut Suvakci), who exist in a state of perpetual struggle against the Serbian crew led by Radovan (Dejan Cukic). Jorge aims to make a final big score and get out of the game for good, but, as ever, it's not that simple.

Into the mix comes Johan "JW" Westlund (Joel Kinnaman). When we first meet him he's chilling with a bunch of brash rich kids in some swishy Stockholm club, and gives every appearance of belonging to the city's fast-money elite, but he's living a double life. While taking a business course, he's also picking up cash by driving a taxi (the cab company is one of Abdulkarim's low-level rackets), and is desperate to find a route to the titular easy money in any way he can. Hooking up with glamorous posh girl Sophie (Lisa Henni) looks like a promising gambit.

When Abdulkarim sends him to rescue Jorge from Radovan's hitman Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic, pictured below), a task in which he displays both nerve and imagination, JW relishes the opportunity to take a bigger bite of the criminal life. His golden opportunity occurs when Abdulkarim asks him if he can help him to launder his illicit loot. The scheming JW recalls that the father of one of his rich pals owns a bank which is struggling to stay afloat. He recommends that Abdulkarim should buy it to gain a veneer of instant financial probity.

However, JW is a mere amateur, albeit a nakedly ambitious one, in a world of professional villains, and it takes Jorge to give him a few brutal, belated life-lessons. JW's problem - tragedy, even - is that he belongs nowhere, having disowned his lower-class family in order to reinvent himself, yet never being fully accepted by either the rich brats or the gangbangers. Director Daniel Espinosa has successfully evoked a grimy, factionalised Stockholm where teeming criminality lurks behind its tourist-brochure squares and landmarks, and ethnic violence is routine (as recent real-life riots in the city would attest). The wealthy, meanwhile, seem insulated in their Porsches or on their private estates, but greed and corruption are poisoning their lives too.

Espinosa does throw us a few ironic scraps of hope. There's a pitifully touching relationship between Mrado the hitman and his incomprehending young daughter, and a glimpse of a future for JW and Sophie if he could only stop lying and hating himself. In the end, though, this is a diabolically shrewd dissection of a society coming unglued.

Watch the trailer for Easy Money

It evokes a grimy, factionalised Stockholm where teeming criminality lurks behind its tourist-brochure squares and landmarks


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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