Tribeca Review: In Order of Disappearance
Stellan Skarsgård has a unique set of skills in Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland’s In Order of Disappearance, and among them is operating a snow blower. Set against the sparse, snow-soaked landscapes of Norwegian, Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland’s In Order of Disappearance casts Skarsgård in the old-guy-after-revenge role that’s been popularized by Liam Neeson in recent years, but contrary to movies like Taken and 3 Days to Kill (Kevin Costner’s attempt at entering the genre), Moland’s new film aims to undermine and subvert those movies where an extraordinary body count. Yet, the satire is among the bleakest of black comedies, deriving laughs from domestic violence to squeaky morgue slabs.
As the film begins, In Order of Disappearance adopts a stark, cynical tone with little spoken dialog, and characters being kidnapped, beaten and killed. But as Skarsgård’s Nils Dickman (which the movie reminds us, translates to, “Cock man”) sets out on his revenge mission and starts killing people, In Order of Disappearance differentiates itself from similar action titles with humor, and an impatience for prolonged action sequences. The violence comes in quick waves of brutality, with much of Nils’ interactions with his victims implied. This tactic prevents the movie from becoming too bogged down by its own gore.
Additionally, as the film’s primary villain (Pål Sverre Hagen) realizes he’s being pursued, he’s more concerned about a custody battle with his ex-wife and an argument over Froot Loops than the Albanian (or is it Serbian?) gangster that may or may not be out for him. It’s in these ways and more that In Order of Disappearance caters itself to the skeptic pointing out logic flaws in Taken 2. Disappearance manages to both embody and defy the genre that inspired it.
Which is not to say that In Order of Disappearance doesn’t work as an action-thriller. The violence is exhilarating in parts and the gangster saga woven around Nils is compelling, even if the film loses some steam the further its tangents take it from Skarsgård. And even thought he final gun-totting showdown feels forecasted, it becomes an effective dramatic climax. The humor, as well as the compelling visuals set against an oppressively snowy setting, is what set this film a class above its peers.
In Order of Disappearance manages to thrill and entertain not in spite of the genre that it embodies, but because of it. The movie takes the tropes of familiar action-thrillers and finds new, darkly comedic material to mine from in its engaging story.