Easy Money

Easy Money


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Jorge has a year left in prison. JW is about to graduate. Mrado has just acquired a daughter. Jorge can't wait. JW can't afford his lifestyle. Mrado doesn't know what to do. Carlos is trying to escape. JW is trying to escape. Mrado, Mrado is making things complicated.

'Easy Money' isn't a perfect translation - the original title is Snabba Cash, and "Snabba" means something closer to "rapid". Not just the quick and the dead, this is about fast money. Not just the fast money of illegality: We've got drug-smuggling, obscene wealth, unlicensed taxis, gang-wars and money-laundering. Not just the business of crime, the crimes of business - "Jetset Freddy" and his cocaine-snorting cronies, Serbian hit-men, Spaniards with connections in Germany, and stuck in the middle JW, JW with his desperate need to fit in.

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Based on a novel, this is at once a densely interlocking slice of Scandi-crime, an intense set of character pieces, and a poly-lingual indictment of a variety of shades of greed. Daniel Espinosa's direction makes good use of handheld shots in a variety of kinetic escapes and chases, a tendency seen in 2012's Safe House - his successes in Snabba Cash being rewarded with induction to Hollywood before the film made its way to wider distribution.

The same is true of star Joel Kinnaman - beyond roles in Snabba's sequel and BBC4 favourite The Killing he's currently filling Peter Weller's cyborg shoes in the Robocop remake. As JW he's both criminal ingenue and social chameleon. There are shades of Matt Damon's turn as Mr Ripley and of the layered betrayals of the Godfather trilogy. When his downfall is outlined to him it's heartbreaking, but it's also "only business".

Matias Varela is Jorge, JW's passport into this illicit but lucrative field. Fields literally, in fact, as one of the many locations well used in this gazetteer of criminality is a vast array of greenhouses growing kale and cabbage to have cocaine hidden within them. Then there's Mrado - played by Dragomir Mrsic, whose early career includes actual bank-robbery, he's a wise-counsellor to his own boss, and then to others. For sure, he's playing an angle of his own, indeed, even as the geometries of the three protaganists grow ever more complicated, it all springs from two simple principles - everybody's looking out for themselves and for the money.

Easy Money has a lot going for it. There are some beautiful moments - a scene on a bridge is punctuated by a speedboat, an apt reminder that even as JW is drawn into the underworld the actual world persists. There's JW attending a party, detail-obsessed from the buttons on his shirt to his cautious approach to the mansion. There's also Mrado's supermarket expedition, daughter in tow he approaches the problem of shopping for a child for the first time with characteristic cunning.

Its success as a film earned it a sequel, and it seems almost inevitable that it'll be remade in English - the only question is regionalisation. That mixture of languages, borders, immigrants of a variety of statuses, veterans of all manner of conflicts and, well, easy money isn't uncommon. What is rarer is the ingenuity and energy on display. That you'll enjoy Easy Money is, well, let's call it a racing certainty.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2013
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A poor student with an expensive elite lifestyle sells cocaine to pay for his extravagant habits.
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Director: Daniél Espinosa

Writer: Maria Karlsson

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Matias Padin Varela, Dragomir Mrsic

Year: 2010

Runtime: 119 minutes

Country: Sweden, Germany, Denmark

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