Film review: In Order of Disappearance

Dark comedy disorder descends upon the far north of Norway

kraftidioten

Image courtesy of Nordisk Film
Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance) takes place in Norway’s frigid Arctic region.

JOHN SMISTAD
Olympia, Wash.

Synopsis: Nils plows snow in the wild winter mountains of Norway and is recently awarded “Citizen of the Year” by the people of his small town. When his son is murdered for something he did not do, Nils wants revenge. And justice. His actions ignite a war between the vegan smoothie swilling gangster “The Count” and Serbian mafia boss “Papa.” Winning a blood feud isn’t easy, especially not in a welfare state. But Nils has two things going for him: Heavy machinery and beginner’s luck.

Ruthless drug lords, beheadings, and semiautomatic weapons war between gangland goons. Not exactly your common recipe for inspiring laughter and levity now, is it? But somehow such insidious ingredients blend together to do just that in the 2014 Norwegian crime dramedy In Order of Disappearance (original Norwegian title: Kraftidioten).

After his son is forced to have a fatal drug overdose by a pair of low-life henchmen, small town “Citizen of The Year” Nils Dickman (veteran Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård in a somber yet simmering turn) transforms into a one-man army, bent on reaping righteous revenge and retribution in the name of his dearly departed and beloved boy.

Along the ensuing and winding path of pathological and malicious mayhem, we are treated (for lack of a better word) to blood-spattered cardboard four-count coffee holders, an ill-fated Japanese hitman carelessly (callously?) nicknamed “The Chinaman,” perhaps cinema’s first-ever killer snow-blower rig, a persistent bespectacled recruiter tirelessly headhunting on behalf of Norwegian liberal leadership, and an utterly unhinged cocaine-trafficking kingpin cum “family man” (in strictly the loosest sense of this role and as gifted to us by a perfectly cast Pål Sverre Hagen), who shoots at enemies as nonchalantly as most people peel a banana.

Special recognition of technical merit must be invested on behalf of two creative camps here. First, to the exquisite atmospheric music soundtrack playing throughout and under Director Hans Petter Moland’s expertly executed film. The talented trio of Brian Batz, Kaspar Kaae and Kåre Vestrheim are collectively masterful in establishing a singularly tuneful tone to the production. Depending upon what the particular moment may call for, their auditory brilliance summons within strong senses of starkness, melancholy, and even lunacy, primarily by way of affecting string instrument performances, not the least of which is this achingly moving acoustic guitar work.

Stellan Skarsgård plays small town “Citizen of The Year” Nils Dickman

Well-earned recognition in equal measure goes to  chief cinematographer Philip Øgaard, as well. It is his keen eye that captures the beauty and, at once, the desolation of this remote, unforgiving region of Norway. Øgaard’s artistic vision succeeds in such a poignant manner to make this ruggedly spectacular landscape play like another character in this most unusual and multi-layered story.

What this all adds up to is two endlessly engaging hours of a nonstop, no-holds-barred and unabashedly politically incorrect free-for-all of cutthroat crime, dark comedy, and, ultimately, good triumphing over evil via the ingenious orchestration of evil doing in itself.

This final disappearing act “flies in the face” of anything you’ve ever seen before.

There is a line mid-movie delivered by one of these cleverly conjured characters, courtesy of Kim Fupz Aakeson, who based his wildly imaginative screenplay on a story authored by Finn Gjerdrum.

“What kind of people are they?” the hulking thug asks, contempt unfiltered.

We’re Norwegians.

Deal with it, kompis.

 

In Order of Disappearance is available to both rent and buy on Amazon Prime.

 

This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com.

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