Reykjavik to Rotterdam Óskar Jónasson

Reykjavik to Rotterdam Óskar Jónasson
Seemingly, the greater message behind Icelandic heist thriller Reykjavik to Rotterdam is that crime does pay. Although it's careful to distinguish the degrees of crime, noting that smuggling hard liquor isn't nearly as bad as extortion or armed robbery, especially when you have a family to look after. Given the modern economic context of Iceland, this didactic serves its own snarky purpose, but doesn't sit so well in American terms, which is why the recent remake, Contraband, which, incidentally, was directed by Reykjavik to Rotterdam star Baltasar Kormákur, had some key motivating differences. In this original film, Kristófer's (Kormákur) rationale for taking one last job smuggling contraband from Holland is that his family has financial needs, something acknowledged simply by a passing comment on being behind on rent. In the remake, the decision comes with added signifiers, such as the threatened safety of his wife and children by a gang. This storyline exists in the original, but comes out later in the film once Kristófer has already set sail to enact his plan, which becomes riddled with an endless series of unexpected problems. Playing it straight, the original Icelandic film focuses more so on plausibility and the ramping up of tension between various parties. And since it's a serious film, the stakes are much higher on the narrative front, as there's no guiding formulaic structure to reassure us that the good guy will win in the end. In the American remake, the plot is made more complex, as are the inevitable series of heist problems, making the reality far more exaggerated and darkly comic. This distinction in tone makes the latter film more of a predictable popcorn flick, even though the violence is more aggressive and the trajectory more sinister. Both films work effectively in their own right, serving up the same story of a down on his luck man fighting against the odds to protect his family, but offer up very different visions that appeal to slightly different audiences. Unfortunately, no supplements are included with this Blu-ray to expand upon these decisions, but maybe there will be something included with the Contraband Blu-Ray when it is released. (eOne)