Review: In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten)

One of the best films from Berlin International Film Festival 2014, and another early entry on P&LFF’s 2014 Top 10 Films list. Stellan Skarsgård is a father in revenge of his son’s murders in Norway’s famous dark comedy thriller director Hans Petter Moland’s most accomplished work ‘In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten)’. The original title means ‘bloody fool’ in English and is actually a very smart and absolutely hilarious movie that even the anti-violence viewer might find hard to resist.


A classic bloody payback after a missing bag of heroin has never been this fun to watch. An irony of death count is faithfully present from the beginning till the end. The good can be bad and the bad has all kinds of individual comical layers not to dislike. The Norwegian mafia kills the thief’s Swedish friend with the motivation that traditionally Swedish parents will not go on revenge like Norwegian parents. So when their members disappear one after another, they have no doubt to blame the Serbian mafia who shares the drug selling territory, and so the drug war begins.


Night. Snow ploughing on an icy mountain road opens the film. A close-up of a razor shaving man. Man cuts himself while shaving, sticks a little piece of toilet paper on the cut to stop the bleeding. His wife hands him a fresh ironed shirt and a new tie still wrapped in its plastic bag. He tightens his tie firmly and determinately. The snow plough truck company’s hard-working Swedish immigrant owner Nils Dickmann (Stellan Skarsgård) has just been awarded Citizen of the Year in Beitostølen (a vacation destination north of Oslo). And while he’s being honored at the ceremony, his son Ingvar who works at Oslo Airport is cruelly murdered by drug injection and his body installed as an example on a bench.


Morning. The parents receives the police’s phone call about the overdose death of their only son. A heartbroken cry pierces through the mechanical noise. Insensitive words from the police at the morgue raises the classic question; – ‘Do parents really know their children at all?’. While Gudrun is lost in graving her son’s death, Nils is about to put an end to his own life and all these drama plots suppose to put the audience in a heavy dreadful mood. But there are always some awkward details here and there to effortlessly build the comical mockery alongside the blood spill. So as the lazy and useless pair of policemen – perfect clowns to decorate this normally tranquil vast area of white.


Nils owns a variety of heavy duty snow plough vehicles and we know that he is going to put them to good use at some point. Nils cuts his shotgun short, drives his van to the city to find the responsible murder named Jappe, who takes orders from Ronaldo, and Ronaldo takes orders from Strike, and all that leads to their supreme leader The Count. Nils kills and wraps them one by one in chicken wire and throws them into a giant waterfall in the middle of the night. But how can he reach the well-surrounded Count?


Pål Sverre Hagen (the idealist explorer in ‘Kon-Tiki’) plays Greven (mafia name The Count) who inherited the family drug trafficking business, a tall, self-centered, incorrigible, high end luxury life criminal who drinks healthy veggie juices. He’s in a constant custody fight with his ex. Marit (Danish actress Brigitte Hjort Sørensen) over their son Jack (played by Hans Petter Moland’s son). Marit often blasts into Greven’s minimalist art deco house to scold Greven in front of his men about not properly raising their son, which is really getting on Greven’s nerves as he’s under pressure of his men going missing progressively.


The drug war between the two gangs picks up to an unrepairable state after Serbian mafia leader Papa’s (Bruno Ganz, the angel in ‘Wings of Desire), promising son Junior’s body is found displayed on a height above sea level sign – 1389 MASL. As 1389 is the fatal historical year of the Kosovo Battle for Serbians, a son-for-a-son revenge is declared. Nils’ retired criminal brother Wingman suggests to hire a professional killer to end the Count’s life. The killer, Chinaman (a half Japanese, half Danish), sells the information to the Count which proves their mistaken blame, but the damage has already gone too far. The angry Count kills his pretty-boy employee Aron (Jakob Oftebro, 2014 Shooting Star) who is another employee’s, Geir, (Anders Baasmo Christiansen, 2010 Shooting Star) secret lover. Another stupid move.


“In Order of Disappearance” is a series of paybacks after drugs, loss of sons and the loss of a lover. Nils’ speech at the award ceremony says that;  “- He feels like an Indian path finder”,  which accurately hints Nils’ revenge path, while the Western tone of music switches from Western to East European and to Asian themes, then finally plays up the full piece at the end of the film in a more than brilliant way. Racist jokes are harmless here. A sexist act is shocking but the racist, sexist acts and betrayals will end up bad and hard and the good will be justified (including the innocent and sensitive Jack). A mild version of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is here to claim justice in a much more subtle and witty fashion. A very clever movie that you better not miss.

– Shumaï Chou