Cop Secret, 2021.
Co-written and directed by Hannes Þór Halldórsson.
Starring Auðunn Blöndal, Egill Einarsson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir, Vivian Ólafsdóttir and Sverrir Þór Sverrisson.
While investigating a series of bank break-ins, a maverick cop falls for his rival-turned-partner.
It hardly seems a coincidence that the backdrop to Cop Secret, the debut feature from Icelandic writer-director Hannes Þór Halldórsson, should be an international football fixture. As has been central in much of the build-up to the film’s release, Halldórsson, when he’s not behind the camera, can be found between the sticks as his country’s national team goalkeeper. It is perhaps not too presumptuous then to read the fictional game featured in the film – an all-important women’s World Cup qualifier between Iceland and England – as a sly nod to the men’s team’s famous defeat of the Three Lions in the knockout stages of Euro 2016: a match that Halldórsson himself played in.
Such is the seemingly playful nature of the shot-stopper-turned-filmmaker. His first film, a slickly-mounted action movie with explosive, high-octane set-pieces aplenty, is one teeming with parody. Hyper masculinity, elaborate fight scenes and the implausibility of its villain’s criminal schemes are all in the firing line as Cop Secret, something of a Scandi take on Hot Fuzz, affectionately pokes fun at the genre’s myriad well-worn tropes.
At the centre of it all are Bússi (Auðunn Blöndal) and Hörður (Egill Einarsson), two self-proclaimed ‘supercops’ and bitter rivals for the coveted unofficial title of Reykjavík’s toughest police officer. Bússi is a rugged, stoic maverick who rarely adheres to speed limits and drinks on the job, much to the dismay of his bumbling partner Klemenz (played by the film’s co-writer Sverrir Þór Sverrisson). Hörður, on the other hand, is an affluent, tailored suit-wearing playboy: an openly pansexual former model with a declared attraction to “sexy souls”.
The pair’s inflated sense of importance generates much of the film’s humour: the absurdity of their arrogance amusingly emphasised by the relative peace and order on the picturesque streets of Iceland’s capital city. But when Rikki Ferrari (a scenery-chomping Björn Hlynur Haraldsson), a former acquaintance of Hörður whose daft animal aphorisms and insistence on speaking with an American-accented English that is part Joker and part Donald Trump tribute act quickly becomes the film’s most inspired running gag, threatens public safety with a complex plan involving the football match and a serious of inexplicably unsuccessful bank heists, Bússi and Hörður are forced to team up to save the city from total pandemonium.
Suffice to say, it’s not exactly movie making at its most innovative. However, Halldórsson and co-writers Sverrisson and Nína Pedersen attempt to subvert many of these conventions further by weaving in a subplot of growing physical attraction between its two leads. But while blending a shoot ‘em up sensibility with the coming out narrative is intriguing in theory – something of a shrewd play on the homoeroticism found in many of Hollywood’s most revered cop buddy narratives – it feels far less accomplished in practice.
Much of the queer subplot feels disappointingly undeveloped, never shaking the feel of something that was tacked on as an afterthought to give Cop Secret some semblance of social awareness. As it is, the results often work to the contrary, with several of the film’s jokes falling alarmingly flat, seemingly stuck in that mid-2000s mainstream mould of comedies that fail to see beyond obvious sexual innuendo and penis gags.
Even so, Cop Secret more than justifies its existence: a sugar-rush of enjoyable action movie excess that embraces the genre’s innate preposterousness as much as it looks to ridicule it. It’s a brash and bonkers 100 minutes but, in Halldórsson, Icelandic comedy cinema appears to have found a rather safe pair of hands.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
George Nash is a freelance film journalist. Follow him on Twitter via @_GeorgeNash for more movie musings.