I’m condensing two reviews into one here with Easy Money and Easy Money II(Or Snabba Cash as it’s called in Sweden which I love the sound of). I saw both at the London film festival but seeing as they’re part of a trilogy and the first is a couple of years old I thought it easier to do.
Easy Money I is a pretty entertaining Swedish thriller set in the criminal underworld. We follow student ‘JW’(Joel Kinnaman from AMC’s The Killing) as he gets drawn into this world because of his wanting of, you guessed it, ‘easy money’ so he can continue his lifestyle of upperclass partying with his youthful, elite friends who are mostly living off they’re huge trust funds.
Firstly, that’s a tough sell. You really want me to feel bad for a guy who just wants to act like all the other spoilt brats? Sorry, but even when they throw in a sweet but slightly boring romance it’s still very hard to root for his motives.
Nevertheless, there are other characters for us to focus on like Jorge(Matias Varela) who breaks out of a prison all too easily at the start and who befriends our lead. Then there’s the crude loser Mahmoud(Fares Fares) and the hard as nails Mrado(Dragomir Mrsic) who of course has a soft side because… he has a young daughter! That’s quite a common theme through both films: ‘these hard as nails guys are really all softies underneath. Look, a kid. A romance, another romance, he just wants to be loved. He just wants to be accepted by his parents. It’s all a bit unconvincing.
Luckily though, the rest of the storyline in the first film is thoroughly entertaining. As JW gets dragged into this world, realising he’s in too deep and he starts just trying to keep his head above water the film takes many an entertaining twist and turn with just as much strong bloody violence to go with it (one of the opening sequences is not for the squeamish as a man gets his head repeatedly smashed against a urinal). The performances are also very strong and put a lot of conviction into some of the more slightly unconvincing elements of the story.
Also great is the frenetic direction and very grim, real world photography; this is not a pretty world and we can see with our very eyes how. Back this up with a very bombastic score during the action and it’s a very well constructed thriller which sets out to entertain and succeeds very well in doing so.
Which makes it a shame that the second one doesn’t quite live up to it.
Picking up 3 years later we re-join several of our characters and catch up with what they’re doing(I won’t say what as that might spoil the first film). Of course what a lot of them are doing is very loud and brash and violent. Then there’s a new romantic interest for one of the characters(the women in these films really are poorly and weakly written). You can almost see the swagger of the film from the beginning as the credits flash up full screen in huge type and backed by a fog horn. Unfortunately it’s all attitude and no substance as the separate story lines of the characters unravel into… well, nothing really. It all feels like a lot of set up to the third film. While the first one could be watched and you wouldn’t need to see the second, the second leaves several plots frustratingly undeveloped purely to lead into ‘Snabba Cash III’.
The performances are still strong, the score is still fun and the photography still great but the strange editing style that appeared fleetingly in the first film now really distracts as we repeatedly flash forward and back between one scene and the next. A sort of weird transition if you like. It’s too frequent and makes it hard to watch at times.
I’m not sure how you can get hold of either film outside of Sweden but I’d recommend the first one for pure entertainment value.