With his long tousled wig, his black leather jacket tinted with the American flag and his dark sunglasses, the man who calls himself “The Outlaw” takes hostages in a 1973 bank robbery in Sweden. He asks for two guns, the release of his imprisoned friend Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong), US $ 1 million, and a very specific getaway car: a Mustang 302, just like the one Steve McQueen was driving. Bullitt.
Even though the new movie Stockholm claims in the opening scenes to be “based on an absurd but true story”, it quickly becomes clear that there will be creative freedoms taken with his narrative, starting with the casting of Ethan Hawke as the cow criminal -American boy rather than the Swedish man who committed the crime that inspired the term “Stockholm syndrome”. Still, telling audiences in the first few images that the story is based on fact gives it an extra boost. Stockholm is positioned in the same vein of self-parody of me Tonya, in that it embraces its story stranger than fiction and keeps the energy level high.
Noomi Rapace plays Bianca Lind, a married woman who is taken hostage and begins to see Hawke’s Lars Nystrom as a sort of liberator. Anyone who understands the lure of bad boys will see Bianca’s attraction to Lars grow slowly – despite her confidence being often misplaced, and the script takes on a largely comedic tone that portrays Lars as being way above him. her head. You would be forgiven for noticing the similarities between this story and the 1975 tragicomic masterpiece Dog day afternoon. Stockholm seems to constantly draw inspiration from it, although he never develops such a strong emotional bond with his characters.
A place where Stockholm diverts quite well from Dog day is on the other side of the hostage-taking. As this was the first criminal event to be covered by Swedish live television, the methods of the police and the Prime Minister are being exposed to the country to see them unfold in real time. Christopher Heyerdahl (AMC’s Swedish Hell on wheels) is perfect as Chief Mattson, who uses aggressive tactics and doesn’t understand how police actions could be frowned upon by a wider audience. He’s shocked that anyone is supporting a cheeky jerk like Lars, and he doesn’t have the capacity to handle a nationwide crisis.
Lots of twists and more absurd parts of Stockholm descend in much the same way as they do in real life, and writer-director Robert Budreau (who once teamed up with Hawke in Chet Baker’s perfectly calibrated biopic Born to be blue) fully exploits the absurdity of each situation. In at least one case, the movie doesn’t go far enough: after it’s all over, the real kidnapper and hostage have become family friends.
There are hints that Bianca’s marriage is solid (if he’s lifeless), and Hawke and Rapace develop a real connection. It can come at least in part from going through a traumatic event together, but it can also be an identification of the other’s inherent loneliness. Few actors do Silent Desperation as effectively as Hawke, and his performance anchors the film in that sentiment, making Stockholm an entertaining movie that works on many levels, even if there isn’t a great overall theme.