Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Directed by: Hans Petter Moland
Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Bruno Ganz, Birgitte Hjort, Pal Sverre Hagen
There seems to be a bit of a renaissance in the thriller genre this year – and most notably the revenge thriller. Blue Ruin and Cold in July provided more twists and turns than Nürburgring earlier in the year, and now In Order of Disappearance has come all the way from Norway to showcase the darkest of the dark thriller, with the humour of your eighty-year-old grandad.
Most movies about revenge tend to focus on the spectacle of cruelty and bloodshed, delivering a film filled with somewhat morally justified killings, but no meaning behind them. That’s not the case with this film. Like many other Scandinavian masterpieces, In Order of Disappearance delivers a deep and meaningful story. The script tries to focus on the conflicts and personal tragedies behind the murders, which makes it not just a great gangster flick, but also a great drama. With Hans Petter Moland’s directing style, every gesture, look and sentence has a meaning. Of course, this impact is helped by some great performances by Stellan Skarsgard, Bruno Ganz and Pal Sverre Hagen.
In Order of Disappearance tells the story of a man who snow ploughs the wild mountains of Norway, and becomes a vigilante after gangsters murder his son. Recounting the story wouldn’t really give much of an indication of why this particular film is so impressive. The narrative is definitely good but it’s the way it’s told that makes it a winner. The script is full of funny dialogue, with characters often going off on humorous tangents about, for example, why only cold countries have a welfare state or how nice Norwegian prisons are. The script is full of this humour, and it never feels forced or flat.
As the title suggests, the film documents the order in which characters disappear, i.e. are murdered. The names are displayed as white text on a black backdrop, with an accompanying symbol of their religious group; the Protestant crosses of the dead Norwegians, the Catholic crosses of the Serbians, and the Star of David for the one Jewish victim. It’s an unusual, original idea that’s both funny and poignant. It goes against the grain of most crime films that’s for sure.
The film is the lovechild of Fargo, Burn After Reading, The Big White and In Bruges. It’s almost a mix of all of them, though it’s darker and gorier, and has a more serious underlying theme. This is not a film for the faint hearted. That’s said as a warning, because the body count is bigger than the amount of explosions in a Michael Bay film. It’s a testosterone filled movie with a hero called ‘Dickman’. You can’t say it more obvious than that.
But what makes In Order of Disappearance stand out is the deeper comment about how men act. Our anti superhero, Dickman, lives up to his name. He’s not able to express feelings to his wife and avenging his bloodline is all that matters. Of course we know that our society is patriarchal but in this film it’s over-exaggerated. Some would say that it’s sexist, but I would suggest it’s a good satire on today’s society.
The one criticism is that the film is too long. There are certain strands of the story that feel unnecessary and at times it struggles to balance humour and seriousness. Minor issues aside, In Order Of Disappearance is a great thriller with a really impressive style of storytelling. If you like your thrillers dark and vengeful, this one’s for you.