My last review, New World, centered on the machinations of rival factions of a large Korean crime syndicate. This time, we are based in Sweden, in an unnamed city. Our mix is a financial studies student/cab driver, a Serbian mob trying to muscle its way in to the Swedish drug trade, an escaped from jail criminal, and a Serbian hit-man with a soft spot for his small daughter.
This heady mix is entitled Easy Money. Directed by Daniel Espinosa, it is based on the novel, Snabba Cash, which means easy money, by Jens Lapidus. Joel Kinnaman, who most recently starred in the AMC series The Killing, is the star. What I didn’t know going in was that Kinnaman holds dual citizenship from both the USA and Sweden. The rest of the cast is entirely European.
You may recall that Daniel Espinosa also directed the 2012 thriller Safe House which starred Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.
Easy Money was an intriguing story that took its time to get started, which meant it was a tad confusing at the beginning. We witnessed a jail break, a guy gets brutally beaten in a night club, and we meet the lead, JW (Johan) Westlund who is out for a drink with his rich friends. And none of these threads are related. Yet.
We learn that JW’s not really a member of this crowd. Actually, he’s from the north of Sweden, his parents haven’t much, he lives in student housing, and he both drives a taxi and writes term papers (for cash) to make ends meet.
He’s invited out for an elegant weekend long party at a wealthy family’s estate out in the country. He wants to be apart of this crowd badly and despite the fact that they’re all snobs (one of whom actually tells JW he’d be better off sticking with his own kind), he still wants in. Especially after meeting a rich girl, Sophie, played by Lisa Henni, who is beautiful and is attracted to him.
Through his taxi business, he has met the mobster Abdulkarim (below) who offers him a deal.
Abdulkarim wants JW’s business acumen to help deal with the boat loads of cash they’ll be making from the drugs. By that I mean investments, accounting, and money laundering. Of course JW is all ears and wants in and his first bit of advice is – Buy a bank.
JW will cross paths with Jorge (above) , the escaped jailbird, because Abdulkarim wants him. As does Mrado (below), a hired gun also looking for for a big payday.
The way the story unfolds, you are drawn in and asked to follow along these multiple story lines which of course all converge around a huge drug shipment.
At times the story is romantic, and at other times, it is brutal. We are in JW’s shoes for the most part, and even if we don’t approve of his determination to achieve wealth (and win the girl) by breaking the law, we have high hopes for him.
Especially once he gets the lowdown from Jorge who spell sit out for him. He wants out, but the truth is that it was much easier to get in than it will be to get out.
The film has plenty of style, and and even some heart. It is also shot beautifully – just watch what Espinosea and his crew do with the lighting. All the characters seem realistic except for JW and his motivations. They do a wonderful job. Watch for Mrado, and Mrado’s little girl.
This isn’t an easy film to absorb, but I think there’s ample payoff. As I watched AMC’s The Killing, I had no idea that Kinnaman was Swedish-American. And if you are not living in the USA, you might not know that Kinnaman has starred in a very popular USA TV Series. Beyond that, expect to see Joel Kinnaman in Robo-Cop next year.
Three point seven five, and recommended.