In Order of Disappearance

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE (Kraftidioten) is another great movie I was pushed into watching by an impending remake. In this case the remake is the Liam Neeson movie COLD PURSUIT. The same director, Hans Petter Moland, first did the story in Norway in 2014 with Stellan Skarsgard (DEEP BLUE SEA) as Nels Dickman, the stoic small town snow plow driver who up and dedicates his life to violent revenge after a drug gang kills his son (Aron Eskeland). There’s a darkly comic tone as he questions and kills his way up the ladder, rarely having much to say to them, then easily disposing of the bodies in the snow. Each time someone dies in the movie their name is written on the screen in memoriam. At first it kinda seems like chapter titles, but as shit escalates these cards become comically frequent and even cut to as shorthand for “and then they killed him.”

As good as the quiet, dispassionate anti-hero is his nemesis, the local crime kingpin known as Count (Pal Sverre Hagen, KON-TIKI). An entitled prick who inherited the crime empire from his dad, he’s a cover-of-Fleetwood-Mac’s-Rumours lookin motherfucker who lives in a fancy modern house full of art and insults his long-suffering henchmen for not taking care of his son the way he wants them to. We quickly see that that last one is not about caring, but about fighting with his ex-wife Marit (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, PITCH PERFECT 2, Vinyl). When she accuses him of only feeding the kid Fruit Loops he’s furious.

I’m not sure if he knows it, but his henchmen are letting the kid eat Fruit Loops.

His men sometimes fuck up but generally seem to have more common sense than him. Nevertheless he is quite clearly convinced that he’s smarter than everyone else. When he’s keeping himself in control, Count is a passive aggressive prick. Check out this arrogant “I’m trying to be polite but everyone here is so dumb and I’m gonna have to ask to see the manager” face:

Count is also a total psycho. As his men start turning up dead he starts having them go to war. They usually have a look on their faces that says they’re aghast about what he’s asking but will go ahead and go along with it. He’s so fond of his uninformed opinions that he starts a war with a Serbian gang, mistakenly believing

1) they killed his men

2) they’re Albanian

On the latter he never seems to budge no matter how many times he’s corrected.

He’s the most cartoonish character in the movie, but believably unlikable. There’s something very true to life about his petulant smile of repressed rage when he talks condescendingly to his men. He’s an emotional wreck who acts sadistic to cover up his insecurities, but still sometimes breaks down crying or losing his temper. And he’ll order people killed for arbitrary reasons, my favorite being after a hitman (David Sakurai, Iron Fist) is hired by Nels to kill Count, but instead comes and warns him in exchange for a pay off. Count accepts the offer, then punishes him for betraying “a paying Norwegian citizen.”

The movie takes place mostly outside of the city, in the town of Tyos or at a nearby ski lodge. So there’s almost nothing around but snow peppered with houses. Livening up this barren landscape are a whole bunch of funny characters. Several of Count’s henchmen have their own little things going on, and every once in a while Nels has to humor his annoying neighbor (Atle Antonsen), who’s always trying to recruit him to The Farmers’ Centrist Party.

Nels’s brother (Peter Andersson, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS), is a former gangster who now seems to just hang around in his nice house in pajamas, relaxing. He quickly goes from being annoyed to see his brother after all these years to willingly putting his life on the line for him.

I think there are only three women in the movie: Nels’ wife (Hildegun Riise), who’s infuriated by the pigheaded way he deals with their loss; his brother’s wife (Huynh Huyen), who assumes Nels is an old crime friend and is rude to him the whole time he’s at the house; and Count’s aforementioned ex Marit, who always chews Count out and threatens his visitation rights when he forgets to go to a parent-teacher meeting or something. The movie takes the perspective of the men, with their stubborn dedication to ideals like “a father must avenge his son,” so the wives come across like kind of a pain in the ass, yet all three are undeniably correct, maybe even being too lenient with their dipshit husbands. Especially poor Marit, who gets punched hard in the face for her efforts.

And here’s Count right after that, trying to act like he hasn’t completely lost his shit:

The Serbian gang, led by the dour “Papa” Popovich (Bruno Ganz, NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE, THE READER, THE COUNSELOR), are more like something out of a serious crime movie, only funny because they misunderstand the idiots they’re dealing with. It’s a strong tone; a good mix of funny characters and dialogue with straight-faced gloominess. It’s hard to imagine a Liam Neeson vehicle having a similar feel, but we’ll see how it goes.

I wasn’t familiar with director Moland, and the fact that he’s doing his own American remake made me think he’s some up and coming potential hot commodity. Turns out he’s been directing since the early ’90s, and already worked with Skarsgard in ZERO KELVIN (1995), ABERDEEN (2000) and A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN (2010). They also have another one called OUT STEALING HORSES coming out this year, so I guess he hasn’t been completely replaced by Neeson.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 at 8:06 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

34 Responses to “In Order of Disappearance”

  1. I love this movie. It’s a great combination of dark humor and well-shot action. I’ve been looking forward to the remake, but I was a little disappointed in the trailer, because it looks almost like a shot-for-shot copy of this film; including the big shootout near the end of the movie. Hopefully, it gives us something new compared to this great original film.

  2. If KRAFTIDIOTEN means in Norwegian the same as it does in German, it means “Strength idiots” (possibly in the meaning of “strong idiots”).

    And if this wasn’t enough, the remake is gonna be released as HARD POWDER here.

  3. Power idiot would be a better translation, I think. Moland has said in interviews that the remake is similar, but more violent and less funny. Sounds interesting. And it’s apparently Neesons last action movie, so…

  4. I was wondering about the title. I really like the English one. It’s unusually artful for a complete retitling.

    Wait, Neeson said he’s not gonna do any more TAKENs and Collet-Serras and stuff?

  5. I can’t vouch for “kraft” having the same meaning in German and Norwegian, but Kraft is more strength than power in German. (For example nobody would say that a politician has kraft, regarding to his power, unless they were talking about Jesse Ventura and really referring to his muscles.) However I believe that “power” might be the right contextual (and most likely also Norwegian) translation.

    The German title of the movie is more like the English one: ONE AFTER ANOTHER (Einer nach dem anderen).

  6. I’m wondering how they’ll come up with a symbol for humanism and/or atheism that most English speakers would recognise. Maybe they’ll just drop that bit in the remake.

  7. R.I.P. Dick Miller.

  8. Liam Neeson has been the Action Man for exactly a decade now, so it kinda makes sense to quit while he’s ahead.

  9. Liam Neeson has something called Honest Thief, with Jai Courtney, in post-production. It doesn’t sound like a romcom.

    And he’s supposed to be making a Philip Marlowe movie based on the post-Chandler novel, The Black-Eyed Blonde. It needn’t be action heavy, but he’s sure to get to play tough.

  10. So I googled it, and it looks like Liam Neeson said he was retiring from action movies in September 2017 while promoting a movie at TIFF (the one where he played Mark Felt). He said “Guys, I’m sixty-fucking-five. Audiences are eventually going to go: ‘Come on.’”

    But then a couple weeks later at the premiere in Los Angeles, he recanted, saying “It’s not true, look at me! You’re talking in the past tense. I’m going to be doing action movies until they bury me in the ground. I’m unretired.”

    So it looks like it was a false alarm. Or at least, he’s undecided. Nothing offical, at least.

    (I’d include the Variety links with the quotes, but this comment system has that weird thing where links appear at the bottom of the post with big portraits from the article.)

  11. ABERDEEN and A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN are well worth a look, if less flashy than IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE. They both have the observational, character-driven vibe that makes this one so satisfying.

    It’s interesting to me that between this and COLD PURSUIT Moland made DEPARTMENT Q: A CONSPIRACY OF FAITH, which is the most conventional and least interesting of the DEPARTMENT Q movies I’ve seen to date. I suspect that Moland’s observational style was a bad fit with Jussi Adler-Olsen’s melodramatic and nasty novels. I’m excited to see what Moland can do with Liam Neeson, but Skarsgard may have the comedic edge on Neeson.

  12. Gary Anderson – I came to see if anyone here was going to mention or discuss Dick Miller’s passing. RIP indeed!

  13. I should probably save this query for Vern’s COLD PURSUIT review but since y’all are already into Norwegian-English translation here, can someone tell me what we’re supposed to make of Dickman in this becoming Coxman in COLD PURSUIT?

  14. I wonder if the villain gets to be funny in the remake? I kinda suspect he won’t.

  15. Happy you enjoyed this. It has great cast of bunch of established and up and comming Norwegian actors. Kirstoffer Hivju (Game of Thrones) plays the first guy Nils Dickman kills (it’s also Nils and not Nels, as Nils is a common Scandinavian first name, I do wonder if you did it with purpose, kinda hard to tell).

    Also happy you didn’t spoil the hillarious final kill of the film. I have seen glimps of it in the trailer of Cold Pursuit, so it seems it will be back in the remake.

  16. I see you probably got confused by Nils and Nels in that the character is called Nels Coxman in Cold Pursuit. Or you made it as joke reference to that.

  17. Vern there is an international trailer of Cold Pursuit which makes the film look a lot funnier, and it has a scene of Viking (this films the Count) in a bathtub like in the original, and give him more of a fun vibe then the American trailer. The American trailer make the film look a lot more serious then the international.

  18. Everything I’m seeing about the remake is leaving the impression that it is an exact duplicate of the original. Which on the one hand means that it will probably be a damn good movie, but on the other hand makes it seem like it doesn’t need to exist. I’m not sure how to feel about that, but I’m… maybe curious? It could be, if nothing else, a worthwhile experiment, seeing a filmmaker pull a Gus Van Sant’s PSYCHO on himself.

    Remember when the guy who did THE VANISHING remade it in English, and it’s an exact carbon copy up until it throws in a happy ending that is fucking terrible and completely ruins the entire movie? It would be funny if COLD PURSUIT somehow manages to do the same.

  19. Other notable cases of Europeans inexplicably remaking their own films in English:

    Funny Games (2007) based on Funny Games (1997) (Dir. Michael Haneke)
    Nightwatch (1997) based on Nattevagten (1994) (Dir. Ole Bornedal)
    The Loft (2014) based on Loft (2008) (dir. Erik Van Looy)
    The Shaft (2001) based on De Lift (1983) (dir. Dick Maas. Yes, that’s his real name, and yes, a guy named Dick Maas directed a movie called THE SHAFT. Naomi Watts is in it.)
    13 (2010) based on 13 Tzameti (2005) (dir. Géla Babluani)

  20. I don’t think there’s anything inexplicable about an easy paycheck.

    Don’t sleep on Dick Maas. The far better film of his is AMSTERDAMNED, which has a dope theme song, a rad boat chase through the canals, and a scuba-diving serial killer. The recent COLD HELL gave me some serious AMSTERDAMNED vibes, in a good way. He also recently made SAINT, a killer Santa movie that adds the curiously Dutch (and curiously racist) phenomenon of ol’ St. Nick’s child-kidnapping sidekick Black Pete into the mix. I liked it about five or six times more than KRAMPUS. I appreciate that this guy’s life’s work seems to be taking some hoary old horror tropes and injecting them with as much Dutchness as he thinks the international audience can bear. He might be Holland’s only horror nerd and he’s making up for that with some serious elbow grease.

  21. Actually, the FUNNY GAMES remake made a certain amount of sense, because violent horror/thrillers with rape and torture and murder were in vogue in America when it came out, and it’s a scolding, school marm-ish critique of those movies. When the original came out, those kind of movies had already had their heyday more than a decade earlier, but the remake came out on the heels of the HILLS HAVE EYES remake and HOSTEL and all that.

    Not that you could ever get me to watch it; the original is one of the most obnoxious, insulting pieces of shit I’ve ever seen.

  22. Man, Dick Maas. That motherfucker has a WEIRD filmography, from classy Hitchcockian thrillers, to unashamed pulp-horror and low-brow comedies, that lower the brow more than anything the states have ever produced. (Seriously, the FLODDER movies and the TV show had some stuff that even made me as a 90s teenager go: “Dude, that’s not funny”.) Some are damn great, some are awful, some are in the middle. God bless Dick Maas.

    SAINT is not one of his best IMO. There are some cool moments, but when you only get a little bit of St Nick mayhem and then by the end a radio voice tells the audience about a whole bunch of shit that not just went down offscreen, but wasn’t even hinted at before, your movie has a problem. That’s (Gareth Edwards’ GODZILLA airport monster fight cutaway)²!

  23. Also RE: FUNNY GAMES. Man, if Michael Haneke, Peter Greenaway and Alejandro González Iñárritu will ever be in the same room together, the compressed arrogance will kill every lifeform within a radius of 25 miles.

  24. I’m with Dan and CJ on Michael Haneke, but I really came here to spread the Dick Maas love. I had no idea there was a remake of DE LIFT, but AMSTERDAMNED, his killer frogman stalks (can you stalk in wetsuit and flippers?) the canals of Amsterdam movie, was a VHS favourite back in the day. It has a great speedboat chase that somehow owes as much to Dick Lester as it does to PUPPET ON A CHAIN.

  25. Since CJ mentioned Hitchcock, can we include Hitchcock’s two versions of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH in the European movies remade by their directors in English list? Or is that pushing it?

  26. Sorry Mr. M, in my rush to praise Dick Maas, I overlooked that you’d already given AMSTERDAMNED ample praise.

    So, what he said!

  27. To clarify: I have enjoyed several of Haneke’s other movies, especially THE PIANO TEACHER. But FUNNY GAMES is some unbearably smug shit, and I consider it almost a personal affront. It’s an self-righteous attack on a genre that I hold dearly by someone who doesn’t seem to have any understanding of the genre or why the audience he so clearly despises enjoys them.

  28. *It

  29. And judging by interviews with Haneke, FUNNY GAMES is also the closest one to his own personality.

  30. I just will never get why people make ultraviolent movies to make the statement that people shouldn’t like violent movies. Years ago I read somewhere, I think it was a reviewer, but not Vern (apologies if it was!) say it’s like working at Baskin & Robbins and yelling at all of your customers that they’re fat.

  31. I saw Molland’s The Beautiful Country. It was good but I kept calling him Hans Moleman.

  32. Just curious, when you guys see a movie like this, are you able to hear that Skarsgård doesn’t speak the same language as the rest of the actors?

  33. pegsman,

    His accent when he speaks English isn’t too shabby, although you’d never mistake him for an American. Is his Norwegian weaker?

  34. He doesn’t try. He speaks Swedish.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>