Cop Secret


Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Cop Secret
"This film is nothing if not derivative. Except, therein lies its beauty."

Well, that’s interesting…and when I say “interesting”, I mean ever so slightly weird, off-centre and not exactly how a buddy cop action movie is meant to go down. But it’s all in a thoroughly good cause.

Bussi (Auðunn Blöndal) is Reykjavik’s top cop. He’s hard-drinking, hard-hitting and just a touch the wrong side of psychopath. In the opening scene we see Bussie take down a bunch of baddies with chilling bloody efficiency and, when his bumbling partner Klemenz (Sverrir Þór Sverrisson) gets in his way he… shoots him too. But only in the shoulder!

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Meanwhile, on the other, posher side of town, suave ex-model and rival for the title of top cop, Hörður (Egill Einarsson) is also despatching villains with panache and style. Clearly, this is going to be a buddy movie, channelling every mismatched pairing ever, from rough Tony Curtis and smooth Roger Moore in 70s hit series The Persuaders, through to Beverley Hills Cop, 48 Hours and… well, you get the picture.

This film is nothing if not derivative. Except, therein lies its beauty. Director-cum-writer-cum-former-professional-footballer Hannes Þór Halldórsson is clearly a fan of the genre. He’s watched a lot of cop thrillers; he knows the pace, the rhythm, the dance of every separate element, from car chase to defusing bombs (remember: you must never cut the wire until the clock is down to the seconds!). So, Cop Secret is chock full of action movie cliché.

Or rather, subverted cliché. Because everything is ever so slightly off. As in, it is broadly faithful to type, but it is also more than happy to send itself up, which it does most excellently.

Bank heists. Bombs. Blackmail. Computer viruses. Mr Halldórsson, you are truly spoiling us!

Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, in the role of Rikki, delivers a superb demented villain. Sorry, English-speaking villain, in the middle of a film otherwise mostly in Icelandic. “Why is he speaking English?” asks one of his henchpersons. Surely nothing to do with yet another Hollywood trope whereby the bad guys usually come with an English accent.

Equally mention-worthy is Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir as Þorgerður, Bussi’s grumpy boss.

There is scarcely a scene that does not work to subvert the genre. Whether it is one character explaining the plot to another – “[It’s] just a decoy like in Die Hard 3” – or two villains engaged in earnest debate about how they have it away with all of the gold bars. Because they weigh 25kg each, a detail mostly overlooked in similar movies. So, “Do we carry them one by one or use a wheelbarrow?”

There is a banging soundtrack, some fine camerawork, and the fun of seeing the gentle streets of Reykjavik re-imagined in the style of a US-based gangster movie. Yes, it’s violent. Bloody at times. (Like, have you ever wondered what happens when a freight container is dropped on a person?)

Add in some interesting and intelligent subversion of other tropes, all in the name of diversity. Hörður proclaims his pansexuality. Bussi is trying to work out his own sexual identity. Other heroic characters are very pointedly not mainstream (there’s even space for a differently abled actor to make their mark on the plot). It’s all great fun if you don’t expect the story to be played for serious and for “normal”.

Reviewed on: 14 Jun 2022
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Mismatched buddy cop spoof.

Read more Cop Secret reviews:

Amber Wilkinson ***1/2

Director: Hannes Þór Halldórsson

Writer: Auðunn Blöndal, Egill Einarsson, Hannes Þór Halldórsson, Hannes Þór Halldórsson, Nína Pedersen, Sverrir Þór Sverrisson

Starring: Auðunn Blöndal, Egill Einarsson, Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir, Vivian Ólafsdóttir, Sverrir Þór Sverrisson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Júlíana Sara Gunnarsdóttir, Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Gunnar Hansson, Jón Gnarr, Auðunn Blöndal, Egill Einarsson, Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir, Vivian Ólafsdóttir, Sverrir Þór Sverrisson

Year: 2021

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Iceland

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