In Order of Disappearance review: revenge, Norwegian-style, served up ice-cold and bloody

Film Title: In Order of Disappearance

Director: Hans Petter Moland

Starring: Stellan Skarsgård , Pal Sverre Hagen, Bruno Ganz, Hildegun Riise

Genre: Crime

Running Time: 116 min

Fri, Sep 12, 2014, 00:00

   

Stellan Skarsgård is Nils, a snowplough driver who goes on a vengeful rampage after his son is murdered. Moving stealthily and violently through the heroin-dealing underworld, he works his way up from jewellery wearing lowlifes to kingpins. In the manner of an early Guy Ritchie joint, Nils’s killing spree sets rival mobsters against each other. Soon enough, a second vengeful father (Bruno Ganz) weighs in with most of the Serbian mafia in tow.

It takes a little while for this Norwegian black comedy to locate its own funny bone, but once it finds its gallows groove, we’re transported to the snowiest, bloodiest, most absurdist landscape this side of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo. There’s a light meta-textual quality to many of the jokes: Nils wonders why all of the criminals have ridiculous Gothamite nicknames. There’s some neat comic counterpoint: Nils’s ultimate nemesis is an organic-only, vegan crime lord (Pal Sverre Hagen, marvellous) with a ponytail. The Serbian villains, similarly, can’t wait to try skiing.

Cinematographer Philip Ogaard fashions lovely wintry tableaux around the chaos. Skarsgård is excellent and taciturn in a role that’s surely earmarked for Liam Neeson if they ever get around to an Anglophone remake. A huge cast is deftly juggled in Jens Christian Fodstad’s edit.

It doesn’t all work. The decision to use memorial inter-titles marking every death becomes a little tedious as the body count enters double digits. The murders are impressively visceral but can be little samey. Even in the company of killers and psychopaths, the two female characters are the least sympathetic creations onscreen. Kim Fupz Aakeson’s screenplay affords humanity to its most cartoonish males, but the womenfolk are all out of luck.

Even against the backdrop of director Hans Petter Moland’s consistently surreal world, Nils gets through his targets awfully quickly. Charles Bronson would marvel at that hit rate.

Still, once you get past that diabolical title, In Order of Disappearance has plenty of dark larks to offer.