Edition: DVD // MPAA Rating: R // Directed by: Daniel Espinosa // Written by: Maria Karlsson // Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Matias Padin Varela, Dragomir Mrsic // Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Review by: Bill Jones
From watching wrestling for way too many years, I’ve learned that what generally makes a triple threat match interesting is the fact that there are inevitably alliances and breakups that occur throughout the match. The stakes are too high for each competitor to not be in it for himself, but the extra man always has the option of who to side with, at least until the dynamic changes. People can win by nefarious means. People can lose without even being present for the fall. It also throws off the traditional one-bad-guy-versus-one-good-guy formula. And the failure of the match, on the other hand, is often predicated by the fact that it is more difficult to choreograph than a one-on-one match.
Easy Money is something of a triple threat, with both the good and the bad. While it focuses on JW (Joel Kinnaman) — a lower-class business student who falls for an heiress, tries to hang with Stockholm’s upper crust and finds himself wooed by a world of crime to help pay for his expensive habits — Jorge (Matias Padin Varela) and Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) are also constantly involved. Jorge is a fugitive on the run from both the police and mafia who is looking to broker a big cocaine shipment so he has the means to escape for good. Mrado is a mob enforcer who unexpectedly gains custody of his daughter and starts rethinking his plans. Their paths cross in various ways, and they inevitably clash in the end.
It’s a solid setup for an underground film in Swedish with English subtitles, which originally received a limited theatrical release in the summer of 2012. It also has a gritty action style that works well with its tone. But its problem lies in the choreography, so to speak.
Easy Money undoubtedly focuses on JW, a character who often remains silent (or at least very quiet) because he is in over his head in most situations. So we don’t quite feel the emotional resonance we should toward Jorge and Mrado by the time it all comes to a head, though both Varela and Mrsic do their damnedest to keep the audience engaged. But JW leads the pack, and much like Kinnaman’s character on AMC’s The Killing, he is often just way too quiet and frankly uninteresting to connect. And much like all three of the men involved find, the payoff in the end just isn’t worth all the trouble it takes to get there. Easy Money is an interesting look at the underworld, but its strongest elements — class issues, the personal problems of criminals and even its action — just aren’t fleshed out enough to make it a great one.
The DVD does not contain any special features, other than alternate subtitles, and that’s a shame, because it would have been interesting to get director Daniel Espinosa’s take on creating more of an art house film after debuting in Hollywood with the decidedly bigger budget of Safe House.
For more info, www.anchorbayentertainment.com
Bill Jones Ink received a copy of the DVD courtesy of the studio for review purposes.