JW (Joel Kinnaman) is a handsome student who works as a taxi driver to make some money. The firm that he works for has some criminal ties and when he is tasked to follow Jorge (Mattias Vereda), an escaped convict; JW is pulled from the fringes of the organisation to its very heart.
While it seems that there has been a flood of Scandinavian crime movies in recent years – Headhunters, Jackpot and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo come to mind – the difference with Easy Money is that JW is not a character who has any designs to join the criminal underworld, but once he is there, he relishes it.
Kinnaman as JW manages to strike the right balance of vulnerable arrogance. While JW has had tragedies in his past, and is not especially loud or outgoing, he makes his mark on the people around him and begins to change when his lifestyle does. Kinnaman allows the audience to alternate between rooting for and hating the character, but his final choices both redeem and damn him.
Each of the main three characters – JW, Jorge and Mrado – have something to lose, but their actions beg the question; who has the most to lose? Jorge is due to become an uncle, but cannot afford to get caught by police. Veredadoes not have a huge amount of range as Jorge, but when he does finally give the audience something other than an affable guy who made the wrong choices, he is convincing and a little frightening. Dragomir Mrsic fares better as Mrado; a man who is prepared to wage a war on a rival gang, but has remarkable tenderness and care for his young daughter. This contradiction within the character lends weight and ensures that no-one in this film is entirely good, or entirely bad.
The story of the film is fun, and the final heist drips with tension, but the pacing of the film is a mess. The audience waits over 30 minutes for the story to become cohesive, and when it does, it drags its heels so much that it is easy to wonder whether the shine will ever wear off this new world that JW has entered. Wear off it does, however, and once this happens the story shifts gears and becomes something else entirely; a tale of double crossing and deception. Director Daniel Espinosa obviously excels at building the mystery, but it is in the quiet moments – which there are far too many of – that he needs to brush up his skills.
Easy Money is nothing incredibly new – we have seen the like of this on TV and in film before – but it is a film filled with interesting characters and complex issues. Stockholm is not portrayed in a bright and shining light for once, but the pacing lets the film down horribly, as do the obvious attempts to set up a sequel – which has already been made – but overall, Easy Money is entertaining if not wholly original. That said, the film has sparked bidding wars around the world, and a US remake is in the works.