It is rare to come across a movie that is just witty and fun and filled with amazing deadpan comedy and great action that is acted and directed superbly. This is that film. I have zero negative things to say about this film. It starts with a bang (if you count running over a mime a bang, which I do) and does not slow down. You are introduced to these two cops that are partners and clearly very close. Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena work so well together that I want to see them in every movie together going forward. You genuinely get the sense that they are long-time friends that have grown to depend on each other. Skarsgard’s character is more reckless and brash, almost like a rebellious teenager while Pena’s is more reserved and thoughtful and clearly intelligent. One of the fun things about this film is the interaction between his kids and wife. They are all assholes and blunt but highly intelligent and not at all sensitive. His wife is played by the beautiful Stephanie Sigman and she is Pena’s match in every way. They have running bets on philosopher quotes and still call each other out playfully. They do not coddle their children when they are being bratty and Pena even smashes the X-box power pack when his son gets a bit whiny about it. His wife is smart, supportive, capable and sexy as shit and even though she is not in the movie as much as you would want, she leaves a lasting impression. Her and Pena are naturals together.
Not to be outdone is Tessa Thompson. She brings an amazing playfulness and intelligence mixed with a sense of naivete to her role. Maybe naivete isn’t the best way to describe it. She is more innocent or surprised by things than her character should be living in the world she does. She plays Skarsgard’s love interest and they are oddly perfect for each other too. He is broken and she inspires him to try and fix his life and he becomes a stabilizing force for hers as well.
Now, these guys are not good guys. They rob criminals and beat the shit out of them and generally are an inch from being fired by their Lieutenant, played by Paul Reiser. The only time they even bring up that they are cops is when it can be useful to threaten someone. With all of that in mind, these guys still are awesome. I still ended up rooting for them at every moment. This may have had something to do with their antagonists being such evil motherfuckers that in contrast it was made apparent who the good guys were. I actually think that this movie portrayed the criminals almost too accurately. It was great to see the scale of bumbling fuck-up criminal to the underlings to the bored rich asshole who does it for fun and for the depravity of it all.
Theo James plays the big bad villain and holy shit does he remind me of a young Sean Connery. I want him as the next James Bond. I had only seen him in the Divergent films so I did not recognize him at first. I actually was surprised when I looked him up and connected the dots. This acting job may have been the most impressive of anyone in this film. He is rich and bored with his life and is sick and twisted and lives just to do terrible things to see if he can get away with it.
This film is filled with so many wonderful little moments that I do not want to spoil them but the funniest I want to share. So skip this paragraph if you don’t want to laugh. So the driver of the heist is a black man who escapes to Iceland at one point in the movie. Our two heroes fly to Iceland to confront him and take the money he stole. Cut to them in suits freezing on a corner in Iceland and Skarsgard’s character asking how they are going to find him without any leads. Pena instantly says ‘It’s a black guy in Iceland, I am sure we just have to wait and we will spot him’. Skarsgard then says ‘So our plan is to just wait and hope we…’ and before he finishes Pena says, ‘Look, there he is.’ To which the camera pans to the only black guy in a sea of white faces. The timing is hilarious and just one of dozens of fun moments.
Where this move comes together though is that Skarsgard’s character goes through a bit of a maturing phase and tries to get his life together. He brings home a kid who’s mother stabbed his father to death near the beginning of the film and it is a running question throughout about why she did it. Finally the boy says she killed his father because of what he did to him. How he took him to a place and had let other men do things to him on film. Skarsgard and Pena find out it was our depraved villain and the final show down is set-up. Decidedly bad cops who are not great people but in a way are good guys by default and circumstance squaring off against decidedly evil motherfuckers who rape and torture and murder and molest.
I plan on following everyone involved in this film going forward. If I could buy stock in actors I would double-up on all involved. The strong women in this film and the lead males and the master villain all earned my respect. Hell, even the underlings are worth watching. This movie comes out February 3rd and I suggest everyone watch this film. I needed this film in my life.