Don’t let the basic title put you off watching this gritty prison-thriller starring Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen, Ana de Armas and rapper Common. Adapted from the Swedish novel Three Seconds written by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellström. Could this film be a contender for underdog crime-thriller of the year? Let’s find out.
A New York ex-convict under the thumb of the FBI must undertake one last job to protect his family and become a free man. After a drug deal has gone wrong, Koslow is forced to take the fall and is thrown back into the prison system, and becomes entangled in a menacing game between the Polish mob and the bureau.
As far as Koslow’s backstory, we find that he was once one of the good guys that wound up down a dangerous path which landed him in prison. At that point, he made arrangements which would see him become a snitch for federal agents.
Throughout we ask ourselves will Koslow get out of this alive and free? Will the cops really leave him in prison to rot? I like when movies instil these kinds of inquiries and ask the audience to make sense of or, concoct our opinions before all is uncovered, it makes the experience more captivating.
There are a couple of bits in this film infuriate the faculties somewhat. For example; Koslow’s better half and little girl need to wait until an occupation is over with for their very own wellbeing, illogically she winds up not waiting and is captured by the Polish drug cartel… *rolls eyes*. Do you think that the creators might have been able to devise something a smidgen more imaginative here, like, why is it always the woman? To cut them a break, however, she does redeem herself as the story unfolds. Other parts of the script weren’t all that invigorating in terms of memorable quotes either but it does provide tension where needed and action when required.
In terms of filmmaking, we have a well-built narrative that infuses the audience with just enough material to retain engagement. The director does not scrimp on the violent/action sequences that are invaluable in terms of the visual aesthetic and help us (the audience) understand and sympathise with the questionable injustice that awaits Koslow.
The casting for this was interesting. Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen are nothing short of acting ability but yet, don’t get much of an open door in this film. Joel Kinnaman, on the other hand, is a perfect choice for the role of Koslow, the Swedish actor is known for his roles in the criminal detective series The Killing, (2011-2014), the Warner Bros. DCEU movie Suicide Squad (2016) and more recently, the Amazon Prime series Hanna (2019). Ana de Armas has been around Hollywood for a while now, but this year will potentially catapult her into stardom as her James Bond debut draws near – catch her in Knives Out (2019) and the upcoming Marylin Monroe feature Blonde (date TBC).
Overall and regardless of the little niggly bits, I really liked this movie. I remember coming out of the cinema thinking ‘yeah that was a decent one, I enjoyed that’.Sometimes with this sort of film, there is a tendency to overdo it or do too little, but in this case, I feel that there was a good balance between action, thrill and tension. It is the type of film that you can chuck on, on a Saturday night and enjoy without having to think too much about it. Go check it out.