Front and center in every sense is a fantastic Joel Kinnaman (The Darkest Hour, TV’s The Killing and our new RoboCop), commanding the screen with real star power as JW, a college student with a brilliant mind for business, but practically destitute himself. So desperately wanting to be part of the cocaine-and-cognac crowd, he spends time outside of class as a taxi driver in order to fund the occasional purchase of high-dollar clothing items that will pass him off as a mover and shaker — the GQ gentleman he so idolizes.
It is in these extracurricular activities that his heretofore more-or-less straight path crosses with those of prison escapee Jorge (Matias Varela) and the mob muscle Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) out to kill the wily fugitive. Director and co-writer Daniel Espinosa (who jumped to Hollywood with last year’s hit Safe House, which cast Kinnaman with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds) keeps the film running with precision timing, but doesn’t settle for surface-level stuff. Thus, each of the men involved in this triangle of danger finds himself conflicted by outside forces and personal circumstances:
• JW by a beautiful and rich woman (Lisa Henni) who represents the life he wants to achieve;
• Jorge by the news he’s going to be an uncle; and
• Mrado by the fragile daughter (Lea Stojanov) he’s suddenly in charge of after her junkie mom is committed. The last thing a brute enforcer needs is a grade schooler tagging along on his errands, but hey, a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do.
There’s a lot at work here, and Espinosa skillfully sees it all through to a tragic-for-some finish. While informed by American thrillers, Easy Money is not beholden to them; its look at the Sweden underworld is of-its-place enough that it wouldn’t necessarily click if transplanted to the States. I hope an American remake doesn’t happen; either way, I hope more that Anchor Bay Entertainment sees fit to import Snabba’s pair of follow-ups. —Rod Lott