Published Aug 16, 2012Apparently, Martin Scorsese likes Easy Money. At least, one would assume Martin Scorsese likes the film, given that the trailer proudly declares that he "Presents" it (whatever that means). On a narrative level, this work bears a resemblance to Scorsese's mafia pictures, but anyone hoping for a Swedish Mean Streets will likely be disappointed.
There's a great deal of "style" in Easy Money — handheld cameras, close-ups galore and a frantic, post-Greengrass editing style — but nothing in this movie comes close to the visceral nature of the Mean Streets pool hall brawl.
Instead, Easy Money details the obvious narrative of JW (Joel Kinnaman), an insecure young man with a need for cash and his entrance into a criminal underworld. JW has a taste for the finer things in life, despite his humble background, and he finds them by hanging out with a crew of people much wealthier than himself.
In order to finance this lifestyle, he writes papers for them and drives a taxi most nights. Gradually, his immigrant co-workers at the taxi stand bring him into a cocaine-smuggling plot and from there things get worse. On the other side of the Swedish underground, a Serbian enforcer (Dragomir Mrsic) is tasked with pushing JW's crew out of the marketplace.
The screenplay awkwardly shoehorns hot topic issues like European multiculturalism and the Recession (the film was released internationally in 2010) into the narrative, but like many a coming-of-age tale (which this is, albeit a very violent one), Easy Money suffers from "bland protagonist syndrome," in which the audience's entry point into a morally bankrupt milieu is through the eyes of a newcomer. And rather often, that newcomer is more of a concept than a character, and people far more interesting than themselves surround them.
Beyond wanting to have enough money to comfortably hang out with his wealthy business school friends (seemingly his only motivation to turn to crime), JW is a blank slate. When that side of his life disappears in the second half of the film, as a the genre elements take over, he becomes a boring young man who happens to be involved in the drug trade and the audience is left wondering why they should care. (Alliance)