(director: Brian De Palma; screenwriter: Petter Skavlan; cinematographer: Jose Luis Alcaine; editor: Bill Pankow; music: Pino Donaggio; cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau(Christian), Eriq Ebouaney (Imram/Ezra Tarzi), Mohammed Azaay (Salah Al-Din ), Soren Malling (Lars), Carice van Houten (Alex), Guy Pearce (Joe Martin), Thomas W. Gabrielsson (Wold), Paprika Steen (Hanne Toft); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Michael Schonnemann, Els Vandevorst; Saban Films; 2019)
“Does tune into the world-wide current concerns over terrorism.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A thin police procedural B-film about a Danish cop chasing ISIS terrorists through two European countries. It lacks depth in its story and its characters, but somewhat makes up for its weaknesses with the Hitchcock obsessed De Palma’s usual delirious signature motif statements–even if the once great director is now clearly on the skids.
The 78-year-old veteran director Brian De Palma (“Carrie”/”Scarface”), in his first movie since Passion 7 years ago, has to overcome a troubled production, financing woes, unwieldy edits and a film that could easily be mistaken for a TV movie (it was released both in theaters and on VOD). But De Palma’s usual great visual skills help bail him out plus the dull film is fast paced, making it an easier watch for those seeking featherweight escapist entertainment no matter how flawed the film.
Petter Skavlan’s script is D.O.A, giving us no emotional reasons to connect with its wooden characters. But, on a positive note, the crime film does tune into the world-wide current concerns over terrorism, making it at least watchable.
A Copenhagen cop named Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, in Game of Thrones) leaves his gun in his lover’s pad, as he rushes off to meet his older partner Lars (Soren Malling) after an urgent call about a domestic dispute. Discovering a bloody corpse (a grocer who was a go-between for jihadists and weapons’ dealers) in the apartment, they nab the knife-wielding suspect, the Libyan Imran (Eriq Ebouaney), with a personal reason for killing him (he’s pursuing ISIS leader Salah Al Din (Mohammed Azaay) to avenge the murder of his father). The suspect is left with the partner, as Christian borrows his gun to further investigate. But Imran slits the throat of Lars and flees on the roof, only to be snatched by the CIA.
It results in the suspension of Christian, which doesn’t stop our boy from teaming up with his female colleague Alex (Carice van Houten, in Game of Thrones), the lover of Lars, to get revenge on the culprit.
In an effort to make further inroads into ISIS, the glib and unscrupulous CIA agent Joe Martin (Guy Pearce) has taken Imran’s family hostage and use Imran to trail him in his pursuit of Al Din.
The story follows both the CIA and Danish detectives in their separate pursuits. The Danes find themselves in the climax dealing with an ISIS suicide bomber, on orders from Al Din, who is preparing to strike a crowded bullfight stadium in Spain, an event that’s to be aired on the internet in real time.
The film was made two years ago in Denmark and was not released over De Palma’s objections that the script was awful and the filmed was shoddy. I would take him at his word and warn viewers this is not a very good De Palma film, even though there are a few inspired moments to sift through in all the heavy-handed dramatics. Remember, it’s not a good film, but it’s still a De Palma film.
REVIEWED ON 5/1/2019 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/