Saturday, July 14, 2012

Easy Money

Its Swedish setting and “Presented by Martin Scorsese” credit impart to the crime thriller “Easy Money” an imprimatur of exceptionality not matched by what director Daniel Espinosa (of this year’s equally mediocre “Safe House”) has put on the screen: a mishmash of every conventional genre trope known to man.

Joel Kinnaman of “The Killing” and this year’s “Lola Versus” stars as JW (Jehovah’s Witness?), a non-U business student whose professors sound more like screenwriters than Ph.D.’s. “The Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is the same as ‘opportunity.’ End of lecture,” says one. Through his night job – he’s the most profitable hack in his dispatcher’s fleet – he gets himself ensnared in a major cocaine drop involving Serbian mafia enforcers, Albanian goons, South American prison escapees, bank fraud, and anything else Espinosa can cram into 124 mostly watchable but occasionally wearying minutes.

JW – for all his supposed intellect – seems always caught off guard by obvious concepts: that the mob bosses won’t let him go his merry way after a “one time only” big score; that there is no honor among thieves, and until you have the money in your hands, you don’t have the money; even that drug busts go bad and when you play with fire, the flames of brutal violence may engulf you.

Espinosa introduces the character of an enforcer’s young daughter solely to be used as a pawn in manipulative scenes showing her playing with toys while her daddy and his cohorts lay out machine guns on the bed beside her. The character of a young socialite who dumps her wealthy boyfriend for JW when his family is forced to sell their bank goes nowhere and is all but forgotten two-thirds of the way through. And I would have appreciated a stronger sense of life in Stockholm, a seemingly fascinating and cosmopolitan city.

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