Easy Money (2010) DVD Review: A Familiar Story Told in an Unfamiliar Way

Written by Mike Bruno

Foreign-film fans this one’s for you, with sexy beautiful good guys, dark dirty and seedy bad guys, lavish parties, sad heart-wrenching stories, disco-tech beats, and the annoying sounds of Euro sirens–oh yeah, and plenty of cigarette smoking as well.

A fascinating crime thriller set in the Sweden, with more languages being thrown around then drunks at O’Hare’s Pub during International Street Fair Day in the city of Orange. It gives a glimpse into many lives, from those who live high on the hog down to those just scraping by in the sewers.

Based on the book Snabba Cash by Jens Lapidus, the plot revolves around three main characters: Johan, Jorge, and Mrado, all of whom are different not only by their ethnic backgrounds but by the worlds they reside in. Johan (Joel Kinnaman from AMC’s The Killing), or JW as he’s called, is a business student who desperately wants to climb into the upper windows of society. He just doesn’t have the money or the right family lineage to unlock the jet-set life he pretends to live in.

Posing as a somebody in a sea of ultra-rich nobodies takes a cool hand and a quick mind, and Johan has both, or so he thinks until he meets Sophie, (the beautiful Lisa Henni) an heiress who Johan can’t keep his eyes off. He desires so much to be with Sophie and to live in that lifestyle he forgets the old saying, “be careful for what you wish for, because you just might get it.”

Johan asks for an adventure and by helping Jorge (Matias Padin Varela), he gets one. The story opens with Jorge in prison, and I don’t know what prison lets its guards play football (soccer for us Yanks) with the cons, unless Burt Reynolds is around, but whatever one it is, that’s the one I’d prefer to be sent to if I get or got caught. Why you ask? Jorge escaped with fewer problems than the fools escaping from the Farm in Irvine, aka Campy Snoopy, where there’s an escape daily, but the prisoner is back in custody before the sun goes down.

Jorge loses any police who might be looking for him yet the news of his breakout reaches the ears of Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic), a hit man for the Russian mob. Mrado knows Jorge and his little cartel can take a big chunk out of big boss Rodovan’s (Dejan Cukic) cocaine business so Rodovan declares war. Back in the day, Mrado would have no problem pulling triggers and popping caps but his ex-wife dies and leaves eight-year-old Lovisa (Lea Stonjaov) in the sole custody of daddy Mrado. The killer with a heart of gold is what we have here. He doesn’t want war and voices his opinion of which Radovan doesn’t dig. Once you tell your employer they are wrong, no matter who your boss is, they’re going to give you the shaft one way or another, and in this lifestyle if the form of the shaft isn’t a shiv, it’s probably a bullet or a car bomb.

Mrado has one chance to save his daughter from the harsh life he lived as a child and wants something better for her. Jorge thinks of his sister Paola (Annika Wittembury), who is about to have a baby, and all he can think of is getting his mom, sister, and soon-to-be new nephew or niece out of the brutal poverty they have endured while JW is dreaming of the world he will soon join when his little shady business deal goes down. This deal hinges on a shipment of cocaine of which the cash will be laundered through banks Johan has secured. Now, those of us who have played this game know nothing ever goes as planned in the regular world, so when one is dealing with large sums of drugs and dirty money, paranoia is the norm, and the only person you can trust is yourself, and even then one never knows.

Everything comes to a head when the dope shows up, and to say things get a little hectic is an understatement. Normally with movies like this, I’m sitting there letting my mind figure out who’s going to get shot, who’s going to rat, who will make it out alive, if anybody does, but this movie twisted itself around and caught me by surprise.

Easy Money tells a story we have heard a hundred times told a hundred ways, and most times one isn’t surprised, but this time I was, and it pulled me in when I was least expecting it too. Though foreign films aren’t my forte due to certain aspects of how they shoot scenes and what we crazy Americans consider being to artsy, director Daniel Espinosa embraces this use while not overdoing it to the point where the story gets lost. The acting was outstanding along with the dream the director put up on the screen.

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