Imagine if you will, a mixture of the grittiness found in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy, mixed with the themes of honor amongst thieves in Jules Dassin’s Rififi and you’ll get to the heart of Easy Money. Known as Snabba Cash, in its native Sweden and based off of a 2006 novel, written by Jens Lapidus, that came out back in 2010. The film follows Johan Westlund (Joel Kinnaman) aka JW, a poor student attending the Stockholm School of Economics. On the weekends, he portrays himself as a wealthy student amongst his fellow peers and drives a cab during the week, in order to support his weekend warrior endeavors. One day he gets a sketchy call from his boss, to pick up someone and transport them somewhere and if he succeeds, the pay is 30K. Once he gets to the place, he’s introduced to Jorge (Matias Padin Varela), the person he’s supposed to pick up and Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) a man that is following him. All three of these men’s lives will intersect, being part of a major crime and drug trafficking operation in Sweden, that makes Easy Money a fantastic crime film and will be sure to win the hearts of many.
The first thing that struck me in Easy Money was the editing done by Theis Schmidt. While not rapidly cut like a music video, our introduction to these three characters shows scene that give us just enough information, to then cut away to random moments later. This immediately put me on edge, I didn’t know what to expect at any moment and the context of scenes would play out gradually. A cut here, would leave me reeling to find out what happened, to then find out a few cuts later how it all makes sense. This helped compress the sense of time extremely well and visually, placed one in the mind set and state that any of these three men would be. A total blur, from one moment to the next, when dealing with large amounts of drugs, money and excess, that would in no way, last forever.
Another fantastic element is how each of these three men are placed in dire situations and doing what they think is right, in order to survive. With JW, he’s trying to make a bunch of money, in order to get out of the life of being a broke student. Being from the north of Sweden, he’s doing everything in his power to become something that he envies and tries to be on a weekly basis. He finds true love with his heiress girlfriend, Sophie (Lisa Henni) and wants to have a fulfilling life with her. With Jorge, he wishes to gather enough money to get out of the game for good. He’s trying his hardest to do right by his family and not try to end up like his deadbeat dad. While Mrado starts out the film as being a straight up antagonist, his goals change, due to the fact that he now has custody of his niece and wants to make sure that she doesn’t grow up in the neglectful and negative life that he had. All three men have their backs against the wall and the tension and escalation of the actions and consequences make for some of the best crime drama I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.
Director Daniel Espinosa has done wonders with this cast and its easy to see that after this, he was picked to make the Denzel Washington vehicle, Safe House and the upcoming Child 44, with Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. His way of crafting every scene, no matter how big or small, makes for a real impact in Easy Money and I’m hoping that this is the beginning of a wonderful career for him. A second film was released in August of 2012 in Sweden, with a third currently in production.
With a strong cast and brilliant script, Easy Money is one of the best crime thrillers from Sweden and with the fact that there’s more to come, with the original cast intact, I eagerly await what the crime saga of Easy Money has in store for the future. Highly Recommended!