Nobody to watch over me at Palm Springs
A look at the Palm Springs Film Fest
Intrigue and mystery at the Palm Springs Fest
Say the words Icelandic action-thriller and I’ve probably lost you already. But that would be your loss.
Reykjavik Rotterdam involves a former smuggler named Kristófer (Baltasar Kormákur) who finds himself in a dire financial situation. In order to preserve his family, he decides to return to his former life of crime for a final score with his friend and wife’s ex Steingrímur (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson). However, after leaving the country for his final job, his family begins to be threatened and Steingrímur’s real intentions become evident.
In many ways, Reykjavik Rotterdam contains elements that sound like a mainstream Hollywood action flick- It has intense amount action, clear cut protagonist and antagonists, and strong commercial appeal. Maybe that’s why it’s already slated for a Hollywood remake.
However, there are a number of characteristics that set this film apart which ultimately make Reykjavik so rewarding as a movie. It lacks the polished, slick look of many big Hollywood productions, but Reykjavik demonstrates that this is in no way required to make a movie that is captivating, exciting, and packed with tension. More importantly, the film is able to this in a subtle way that would seemingly defy its status as an action-thriller. What I mean here is even though the film is not low key, many of the events, particularly in the final act, have no real dramatic buildup which makes them a genuine shock when they occur. It makes Reykjavik lack the almost predestined feeling that pervades some Hollywood action films and creates a thriller that, oddly enough, actually thrills.
The film begins somewhat evenly paced, but Reykjavik quickly accelerates. The stakes are raised as Kristófer becomes more involved in illegal activity and his family is being threatened while he is out of the country. At first Kristófer seems like a pretty average protagonist and a rather mundane action hero. However, as things quickly begin to go wrong, his capability comes through as he turns out to be a far better action hero than we gave him credit for. The clever twists will keep audiences on their toes and the magnificent tension present in the third act is often subtly built.
Reykjavik Rotterdam played at the 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival. A Hollywood remake is planned with Mark Wahlberg starring and the original film’s star Baltasar Kormákur set to direct. I say, why mess with a good thing?