*. Cold, slow, and dry. None of which are bad attributes in themselves, but put them all together and you’ve got a strange kind of action movie. There are lots of people being killed — the title announces the coming body count — but not in a noisy way. Everything seems quiet and low key. Then again, maybe Scandinavian people are like this. They don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves.
*. The plot is familiar even if the setting is a little off the beaten track. Nils (Stellan Skarsgård) is a dour fellow who drives a massive snow plow. His son is unknowingly sucked into some shady drug dealings and ends up being killed by gangsters. Nils seeks revenge, and the cycle of violence expands when the local gang gets into a turf war with the Serbian mob.
*. Scandinavian noir? Well, there is a lot of snow and it’s definitely noir. And it has that sense of quiet about it that may be characteristic of the genre. But I’d call it more a modern Brit crime film crossed with Fargo. Director Hans Petter Moland also acknowledges he’s a big fan of the Coen brothers and Tarantino and it’s hard to miss that debt too.
*. It’s very well done, and the brightness of all that snow is an interesting visual element, but at the end of the day I just didn’t feel there was enough that was new here. Even the black comedy of the gangsters is formulaic. The leader is a vegan with a ponytail or man-bun. A couple of his underlings are gay. There is the usual juxtaposition of the crime business with odd domestic details.
*. Still, there’s much to enjoy. The sound of boots squeaking on packed snow. The plow as juggernaut of fate. The sense we have of Skarsgård’s weight as he sits on top of the guy he’s beating to a pulp. Bruno Ganz (the head of the Serbian mob) as Nils’s soulmate. Moments to enjoy, but nothing to get excited about. Enough, however, to ensure an English-language remake as Cold Pursuit.