Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Layered Cake

Easy Money       WWW Score: 94%

Meet the slickest, savviest, most intricately layered thriller of 2012: Easy Money. While you may need a Venn diagram to keep track of who's on what side of the ledger - if there are actual sides - once you've sorted through the complexities, the reward is one of the finest films of the year.

Joel Kinnaman (AMC's The Killing) is Johan AKA JW, a working-class student at the Stockholm School of Economics who desperately wants to join his better-off buddies up the socioeconomic ladder.

In an effort to make the ascension a tad less taxing, JW makes a life-altering/plot-making decision to lend a hand to some drug dealers in order to score some "Snabba Cash" - the film's title overseas.

One problem: JW's dope-dealing Arab faction is not the sole cartel on the streets of Sweden. The local Serbians are none too thrilled to have competition on their turf and soon after, the war is most definitely on. A slow-burning tension envelops all, as the film rolls toward something really, really bad going down.

Things get a tad too convoluted and disjointed as director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) - working off the 2006 novel of the same name - attempts to juggle three points of view of the proceedings: those of JW, a fellow gang member and the rival syndicate's enforcer. It's at least one too many balls in play.

But Espinosa's camerawork - shot in the mold of Paul Greengrass' work on the Bourne franchise - keeps you riveted to the screen. It's visceral stuff. Kinnaman is a revelation as the in-over-his-head dreamer; witnessing his comeuppance as his world collapses down around him is spellbinding cinema.

When you dance with the devil...

In its essence, Easy Money is a cautionary tale - a helpful reminder - to be satisfied with what you have; no matter how much worse you think you have it than everyone else.

Lest you end up losing it all.