Easy Money (Snabba Cash) (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/07/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 124 mins

Watchable Swedish thriller enlivened by a strong performance from rising star Joel Kinnaman, but the plot becomes increasingly generic and fails to do anything interesting with its premise.

What's it all about?
Directed by Daniel Espinosa (who went on to make Safe House), Easy Money (or Snabba Cash, original title fans) is a 2010 Swedish thriller that a) is based on a novel by Jens Lapidus and b) has since gone on to spawn two sequels. Joel Kinnaman (star of the US version of The Killing and soon to be seen as Robocop) stars as Johan Westlund (or JW, for short), a social-climbing student who has reinvented himself as an upper-class money expert at university, so as to be invited to posh parties, make useful contacts and acquire a rich girlfriend (Lisa Henni as Sophie).

However, JW's longed-for lifestyle requires funding, so he takes a job as a drug runner with a local gangster (Mahmut Suvakci) and soon finds himself protecting escaped con Jorge (Matias Padin Varela) from Serbian enforcer Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic), who, in turn, has been charged with retrieving a list of valuable contacts from Jorge, by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Jorge and Mrado both have their own problems: Jorge's family have disowned him following his stint in jail, while Mrado suddenly gets landed with looking after his own 8 year old daughter (Lea Stojanov).

The Good
Kinnaman is excellent as a sort of wannabe Tom Ripley - his interactions with his newfound posh friends exude nervy tension, painfully aware that one wrong word or missed reference could expose his deception; this also gives an added edge to his relationship with Sophie. Dragomir Mrsic is equally good as Mrado, the thug who gradually realises there is more to life, while there's strong support from both Varela and Henni.

The Bad
Unfortunately, having established both an intriguing set-up and a trio of potentially interesting characters, the script fails to do anything interesting with them and the story becomes increasingly generic and clichéd as it goes along. Varela's character gets particularly short shrift in this regard; the film more or less begins with his prison break, so you expect him to be a major character, but he's largely ignored by the screenplay.

On top of that, the pacing slows to a crawl in the middle section and there's definitely a sense that a little trim to the film's two hour plus running time wouldn't have gone amiss. That said, the action rallies for a decent finale and the set-up for the sequel (also due a UK theatrical release) seems a lot more promising.

Worth seeing?
Easy Money (Snabba Cash) remains watchable thanks to a strong central performance from rising star Joel Kinnaman, though the frustrating script fails to fully exploit the potential of its own set-up.

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Content updated: 19/01/2019 02:43

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