Aberdeen director Hans Petter Moland’s In Order of Disappearance takes place in a Norway that resembles, and looks about as frigid as the planet Hoth, so I wouldn’t blame you for skipping it for that reason. Don’t skip it, though, because you’d be missing out on one darkly funny and beautifully shot black comedy/action flick.
A respected snow plow driver (Stellan Skarsgard) in the mountains of Norway learns that his son has died, reportedly via a heroin overdose. Knowing his son was no addict, he sets out to find and kill the killers himself. This he does, one by one, but not before learning of the root of the problem: two drug-running gangs, one Norwegian, one Serbian.
The poster for the film touts it as Death Wish meets Fargo, which is pretty accurate. It feels like the former in that Skarsgard becomes a vigilante. He goes after the thugs who killed his kid, does them in and tosses their bodies over a waterfall. So we get a fair amount of blood, generally via characters getting shot, especially in the gunfire-happy finale.
A lot of the sharp black humor comes in the form of the head Norwegian gangster (Tobias Santelmann), a pony-tailed jerk going through a divorce, a conceit that reaps comic dividends. We laugh even more at Santelmann’s underlings (listen to two of them discuss what constitutes a “welfare state”), and in how Moland lets us know a character has died.
Working for Moland for the fourth time, the reliable Skarsgard skillfully creates a perfectly relatable, mild-mannered man living an upright existence who gets in over his head because of grief. As the elderly head of the Serbian gang, Bruno Ganz (Downfall) also makes a formidable impression, and Santelmann registers nicely as an amusing yet despicable villain.
For all that, I would have been happy had the film simply consisted of Moland’s myriad mesmerizing shots of Skarsgard driving his plow through the snowy Norwegian landscape, plumes of snow arcing up and out of the way as Skarsgard bulldozes through it. Granted, while it’s beautiful to look at, this native Californian wouldn’t want to live there. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 12/6/16