Film review: Kraftidioten [In Order of Disappearance] (2014), directed by Hans Petter Moland
tl;dr: The film that was remade into the (arguably better) Cold Pursuit.
So, small Norwegian town Tyos’s Citizen of the Year is the snowplough man Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgård). He lives a quiet and unassuming life keeping the roads clear of snow. One day his son is found dead, having overdosed on drugs. His wife (Hildegunn Riise) leaves him, Nils is on the brink of suicide when he learns that his son was in fact murdered – but who by, and why?
Traces seem to lead to Ole “Greven (the Count)” Forsby (Pål Sverre Hagen), a nearby drug lord, so Nils sets out to enact his revenge, one henchman at a time. Only thing is, the Count believes the disappearances of his crew to be the work of a criminal rival, a Serbian gang headed by “Papa” Popovic (Bruno Ganz), so it all gets dark/violent/kind of funny from there.
Did I just copy my synopsis of Cold Pursuit and changed the names of the characters and actors? Yes. Yes, I did. It’s because this is the Scandinavian film that was remade in the US as Cold Pursuit, and there are many ways in which the two are similar. The details, the characters, even the dialogue have basically just been translated. It’s directed by the same person!
As soon as I discovered that Cold Pursuit was a remake of a Scandinavian film, I wanted to see the original. Fortunately, it was on Prime Video and had subtitles instead of dubbing, so I sat down to watch it, and I can’t not make comparisons between the two. The thing is, I preferred the remake – which I didn’t expect. Remakes are rarely better than the original, but with these two films, it’s like they took the original script and added bits to it that made it tighter and funnier, and made the characters a lot more defined. Like the Count’s child. Ryan is a much more interesting character than Rune (Jack Sødahl Moland), because he gets more of a personality. It’s not the child actor’s fault, it’s simply how the character is written.
Another big difference is the Count himself. He’s a lot more restrained. He is still into his clean living here, but he’s a lot less unhinged about it, and while the restraint might work better for some people, I just think “Viking” was more interesting. As for the local police (Arthur Berning and Stig Henrik Hoff)? They are not much more than cameos here, popping up from time to time, but they don’t have anything to contribute plot-wise – whereas they’re actual characters in Cold Pursuit. That’s what I mean about characters being better defined and the plot tightened.
Both films are slow burners, but in Kraftidioten the pace is even slower and it starts to drag in places, but that could just be me watching the film for what was technically the third time.
If you’re not Scandinavian or can differentiate between different languages, I think you won’t realise how many nationalities are involved. The film is set in Norway. The main character (Skarsgård) is Swedish. There are Norwegians, of course, but also Danes, and of course Serbians … who for some reason are headed by a guy speaking German. It’s funny, but when Bruno Ganz (a Swiss national) came on screen and started talking, Mr T went “why do I recognise that voice?” whereas I went “why does he look familiar?” and then it hit us – we both recognised the actor as Hitler from the Downfall meme. (You should see the whole film, by the way, it’s well worth a watch.) It’s an international melting pot, which is nice, if perhaps a bit strange when you actually think about it.
But anyway. It was fun to watch Kraftidioten and see how it compared to Cold Pursuit. I guess it’s good that they looked at the remake as a “let’s take this opportunity to make it a version 2.0 and make real improvements” rather than thinking they were improving it but weren’t. That’s the benefit of having the same people behind the scenes, I guess. They weren’t handing it over to other people to ruin.
So, long story short, while I enjoyed this, I do prefer version 2.0 over the original.
3 out of 5 snow ploughs.