Superbly exciting crime thriller, based on the best-selling novel with the same name, by Swedish author and attorney Jens Lapidus. It's an engrossing story, where we follow the lives of three men - all from different cultures, but whose illegal activities bring them together at various points throughout the film. Mainly, however, it concerns the fascinating double life of Johan "JW" Westlund; an economics student who lives a luxurious life in the social spheres of the upper class elite, and pays for it by doing crime on the side.
Joel Kinnaman, who is best known outside the borders of Sweden for his role in The Killing, does an excellent job with the character, making him believable and incredibly interesting, as he gets sucked deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld of Stockholm and its suburbs. Honestly, I wasn't too impressed with Kinnaman when I saw him in The Darkest Hour and Safe House"(the latter of which is also directed by Swedish-Chilean film-maker Daniel Espinosa), but here he is in his right element and brings a lot of nuance and subtlety to his performance.
Another thing I really loved about this movie, is that it doesn't just show the ugly side of our characters' exploits. They abuse, trade in drugs and engage in corrupt and shady affairs, yet the movie never forgets about their humanity. In example, some of the film's most riveting and heart-gripping moments comes when Mrado, a brutal Serbian torpedo played by Dragomir Mrsic, tries to balance his violent life with taking care of his young daughter. It added something to the story that felt very authentic and original.
Technically, it's really well-made to boot. Theis Schmidt's outstanding editing, in unison with David Espinosa's firm and superlative directing, gave it a very professional touch, with a pacing that operates at the perfect speed. I have nothing to complain about there whatsoever.
Not many outside Sweden have probably heard of this film, but if you enjoyed the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or any of the other Stieg Larsson films, you should definitely not miss this. I thought this was even better in some ways, which should be saying something about just how qualitative it is.
All in all, a surprisingly great neo noir piece, with powerful performances and a highly suspenseful storyline. I expected mediocracy, but was instead presented with a top notch action thriller, that kept me glued to my seat throughout.