Were you to search for some positive takeaway from AMC’s cable-TV catastrophe The Killing, you could do worse than glom on to Joel Kinnaman. Cast as the show’s feral guy Friday, the rangy half-Swedish actor radiated presence even when suffering through the wonkiest, WTF plot turns. For those who only know him from the show, Kinnaman’s wary-eyed turn in this 2010 Stockholm-set potboiler will take you aback; once again, he’s the best reason to tune in. All slicked-back blond hair and snazzy suits, his Johan Westlund is actually an economics student struggling financially. So when he’s asked to keep a “package” safe for a nice payoff, Westlund agrees. Soon, he’s completely in over his head, bouncing between high society and friends in very low places.
Other characters, such as an escaped convict (Matias Padin Varela) and a Serbian mob enforcer (Dragomir Mrsic), work their own story strands into the narrative tapestry. But this class-conscious crime thriller is really about Easy Money’s dual Pilgrim’s Progress tales: Westlund’s tour of today’s multicultural underworld and director Daniel Espinosa’s use of the same as a calling card for Hollywood, which handed him the Denzel Washington star vehicle Safe House based on this movie. You can see why Tinseltown took the bait, as the filmmaker is dirty and sleek in all the right places, even when he’s being sentimental in all the wrong ones (notably in an extended, far too ambitious climax). It’s obvious from Easy Money why Espinosa would be going places. So long as he takes Kinnaman with him, the gentleman can have our hard-earned cash.
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