Posts Tagged ‘Noomi Rapace’

“BLACK CRAB: My rating: C+ (Netflix)

114 minutes | No MPAA rating

The Swedish “Black Crab” is really two movies.

The first — the good one —is an icy “lost patrol” adventure steeped in an end-of-the-world angst reminiscent of  Cormack McCarthy’s The Road.

The other movie resembles the finale of any number of James Bond films…complete with mad scientists operating in a hollowed-out mountain stronghold.

The emotional/intellectual distance between the two is enough to cause whiplash.

We  meet Caroline (Noomi Rapace) and her teenage daughter Vanja (Stella Marcimain Klintberg) in a car in a traffic jam. Up ahead there’s shooting. Desperate people run past. Bullets whiz by. The women hunker down in the back seat beneath a blanket and hope they’re not noticed.

The next time we see Caroline she’s about 20 pounds lighter (nobody does emaciated like Rapace) and carrying a military-grade rifle.  It’s the middle of a brutal Scandanavian winter. Stockholm is a bombed-out ruin. (Can’t see this stuff without thinking of Ukraine.)

Moreover, the war is all but lost.  We sort of assume that from the fact that Caroline — a middle-aged housewife — has been given a uniform and pushed into service.

Turns out that she’s uniquely qualified for a special operation that may end the war.  She and a half-dozen fellow soldiers will penetrate enemy lines and deliver a Top Secret package to a laboratory 100 miles to the north.

The enemy (never identified) controls the skies, so they’re to go on foot — or rather, on skates, using the frozen ocean as their highway (the ice is too thin for vehicles, too thick for boats). 

This “Black Crab” is a suicide assignment, but Caroline has special motivation. She’s been told that her daughter awaits her at mission’s end. 

Written and directed by Adam Berg (with a screenplay assist from Aliette Opheim and David Dencik), “Black Crab” is stingy on exposition.  Little is explained…we’re just thrown into the mission.  

Noomi Rapace

One by one the little unit is whittled down.  There are so many ways one can die out here…drowning, hypothermia, gunfire.

From casual conversations we pick up a little about Caroline’s comrades (portrayed by Jakob Oftebro, Dar Salim, Ardalan Esmaili, Aliette Opheim and Eric Enge), but they are painted in broad strokes. 

 The main question — the only one that matters — is who will be next to bite the big one?

And then there’s the nature of the mysterious parcel they are to deliver. 

As a taut tale of survival, “Black Crab” grabs us early.  There’s a fatalistic pall hanging over the proceedings, and the production design (along the way the soldiers take shelter in abandoned houses, an icebound ferry, a wrecked WWII-styled pillbox) reflects the weirdly beautiful but miserably hostile environment. 

It’s only when Caroline and one surviving teammate reach their destination that “Black Crab” falls apart.  Up to that point the story’s gaping holes have been kept at bay through the sheer effectiveness of the direction, design, action sequences and performances.

Now, with much-anticipated answers at hand, all we get is a major intellectual letdown.

| Robert W. Butler

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Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace

“STOCKHOLM” My rating: B- 

92 minutes | MPAA rating: R

On a sunny day in 1973 a man wearing a ridiculous disguise — black leather jacket with a Texas flag on the back, cowboy boots and hat, long-haired wig and sunglasses — walks into a Stockholm bank, pulls a machine gun from his bag, has everyone lie down and tunes a portable radio to a Bob Dylan song.

So begins Robert Budreau’s “Stockholm,” a riff on a real 1973 incident in which a couple of not-terribly-bright lowlifes held a handful of bank employees hostage for several days before finally being overwhelmed by the cops.  To survive their ordeal the hostages bonded with their captors…a situation now described by the term “Stockholm syndrome.”

The idiot in the cowboy getup is Kaj, and he’s portrayed by Ethan Hawke with a curious sort of dim-bulb charisma. Waffling between cockiness and panic, he demands that the authorities free his best bud Gunnar (Mark Strong) from prison and deliver him to the bank.

Kai also wants $1 million and a Ford Mustang getaway car…he specifies that it be just like the one Steve McQueen drove in ” Bullitt.”


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Noomi Rapace

“UNLOCKED” My rating: C

98 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Despite a “name” director and an impressive cast of solid B-listers, the spy drama “Unlocked” feels terribly generic.

Viewers may be forgiven for thinking they’ve seen it all before.

CIA interrogator Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace), on the rebound from a disastrous assignment that led to mass civilian casualties, is now posing as a London social worker, collecting evidence on possible terrorist activities within the Islamic community.

When the agency snatches a courier carrying messages between a radical imam and a terrorist developing a biological bomb, Alice is called in to break the captive’s will and get details on the impending attack.

Except that the CIA dudes running the interrogation seem a bit dicey…in fact, Alice finds  herself a pawn in a rogue operation. Marked for death by her own people, she barely escapes and goes on the run.

Among her supposed allies are a CIA bigwig back in the States (John Malkovich) and her agency mentor (Michael Douglas). Unsure who to trust among her own colleagues, Alice turns to a Brit intelligence master (Toni Collette) and at one point teams up with a petty crook (Orlando Bloom) whom she discovers burglarizing an apartment where she has taken refuge.

Peter O’Brien’s screenplay keeps us guessing; almost nobody in this movie is what they first seem.

There is much running around and the bodies pile up, but nothing about “Unlocked” is particularly compelling.  Director Michael Apted (whose impressive resume includes “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Gorillas in the Mist,” lots of first-rate HBO and Showtime offerings  and the brilliant multi-decade “7 Up” documentary series) keeps things moving but never makes us care.

| Robert W. Butler

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Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini

Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini

“THE DROP”  My rating: C+  (Opens Sept. 12 at the Glenwood Arts, Eastglen 16 and Cinetopia theaters)   

106 minutes | MPAA rating: R

One of these days Tom Hardy is going to star in a film equal to his talents and then, hoo boy, watch out.

Until then we’re going to have to be satisfied with the Brit actor being the best thing in flawed efforts like “Lawless,” “Locke” and “Warrior” or as a first-rate supporting player in films like “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Inception.”

In “The Drop”  the native Londoner plays Bob Saginowsky, a mumbling Brooklyn bartender who is so quiet, gentle and inoffensive that he reminds of the inarticulate Brooklyn butcher at the center of 1955’s “Marty” (for which Ernest Borgnine won the Oscar).

The solitary Bob has a soft spot for aged neighborhood lushes who can’t pay their tabs, much to the chagrin of his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), who runs the tavern. He goes to mass several times a week (but never takes communion…what’s up with that?)  He lives alone in the house where he grew up…it’s like a time capsule of the 1960s.

And early in the film he adopts an abused pit bull puppy he discovers whimpering in a trash barrel on a frigid New York night.

For such a low-keyed guy, Bob is in a pretty hairy business. Cousin Marv’s Bar (a few years back Marv was forced to sell it to Chechen gangsters), is one of several “drop bars” where the local bookies deposit their daily take according to a top-secret schedule.

If you know when Marv’s is that day’s drop bar, you might be able to get away with a big haul.

The overly complicated screenplay by Dennis (Mystic River) Lehane — based on one of his short stories — balances Bob’s “domestic” life (including a tentative romance with the dog-loving waitress Nadia, played by Noomi Rapace) against the ever-more-dangerous machinations at the bar.


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