Directed by Peter Lindmark.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Samuel Fröler, Alexander Skarsgård, Kirsti Torhaug, Börje Ahlstedt, Kristina Törnqvist.
A successful businessman is accused of murdering his mentor and partner for reasons of financial gain. He must attempt to clear his name, while also protecting his young family.
This taut Swedish action thriller arrives on UK shores via the so-called (and on occasion mistakenly so) Nordic Noir imprint of Arrow Films, a distribution decision based on the intention to reach the dedicated fans of Scandinavian film and TV. It appears to be a sensible one, as Exit contains many of the elements that have made the recent wave of largely Danish and Swedish film offerings to be so successful.
Firstly, it stars Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Valhalla Rising, Hannibal), an actor capable of expressing intangible depths of internal despair and stress through his unusual and constantly changeable features. His turn as hyper successful Swedish financial investor Thomas brings all of the intense glares and damaged quirks that has made the Dane the go to guy for barely concealed weirdness.
Secondly, the fast pace seems all the more overwhelming when contrasted with the storylines of Scandinavian TV hits such as The Bridge or The Killing. Whereas shows such as these have the opportunity to formulate a build up over several hours, Exit sprints off to a conclusion in less than 100mins.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly of all for lovers of the more explosive side of crime stories, a psychopathic villain (Samuel Fröler) brings a fearful realism to what happens when business transaction go somewhat awry – awry as in hell-bent on destruction and mayhem that is. Following his implication in the death of his former partner (Börje Ahlstedt), Mikkelsen’s Thomas must attempt to clear his name in a style superficially reminiscent of The Fugitive and Tell No One, while also keeping his young family safe from the enraged business loser/psycho Morgan Nordenstråle (Fröler, displaying a terrifying propensity for violence and sinister eye-wear).
Assisted by his young associate von Klerking (Alexander Skarsgård, looking handsome and slightly bemused), Thomas negotiates his way through this pre-global economic crisis Sweden with an earnest show of self belief.
As an action movie with a good level of drama and tension Exit has plenty going for it, but it is certainly not without its shortcomings. For example, the female characters (Thomas’s wife and daughter and his former partner’s wife) are woefully underdeveloped, being little more than appendages to the menfolk’s actions, either threatened and endangered or insane and guilty.
Unfortunately, there is nothing much unusual about this in the world of action movies, but when contrasted with the strong female leads of recent Scandinavian film and TV it shows up fairly clearly.
Taking this rather obvious failing out, however, Exit remains a better than average dive into the murky world of corporate and insider trading. Thrills, chills and dodgy deals.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.