In 1973, a strange phenomenon occurred during a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. It earned the name "Stockholm Syndrome." During this bank robbery, the captives became emotionally attached to the bank robbers. The film Stockholm examines those events, remaining true to many of the details regarding this almost comical event. The tongue-in-cheek delivery gives this film an Apple Dumpling Gang feel, but it was a worthwhile afternoon diversion.
Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke) is not your typical bank robber. Although he has a violent past, he also has a soft spot. He is Swedish, but has an "American" accent. When he walks in to rob the bank, it feels as casual as taking the dog for a walk. It doesn't feel planned out. Lars has simple demands. He wants his former cellmate, Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong) released from prison. He wants one million dollars in US Currency. He wants a 1968 Mustang fastback "like the one Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt. These are seemingly simple demands. Sorensson works out a deal with Swedish police to act as a mediator, but changes his mind once he becomes involved in the crazy plot. While the pair are stuck in a bank vault with their captives, the police attempt to drill a hole through the ceiling to gas them out or force them to surrender. In the process, a bizarre set of antics set up a keystone cops versus the apple dumpling gang type interaction that borderlines on slapstick comedy at times.
Stockholm has fertile ground for material. The true story aspect makes the film a bit more compelling. However, it likely overplayed the zaniness in order to make things a bit more interesting. Unfortunately, the film suffers at times with painfully sluggish pacing. The pacing hurt an otherwise brilliant film. The dialogue was sharp, the characters were engaging and the story was compelling. It was an interesting chapter from history to examine. It lost a bit of my interest when it bogged down from time to time. However, I still found the film worthwhile.
Stockholm benefits from a rock solid cast. At its core, this film has Ethan Hawke and Mark Strong as the bank robbers and Noomi Rapace as the primary captive. These three actors are a firm foundation to build a film on. They provided the film balance and captivated my attention. They brought their characters to life. Christopher Heyerdahl was also strong as the police chief. He is one of those actors you recognize but can't quite place where you know him from. He has been in quite a few movies and television series, but doesn't generally have lead roles. The rest of the cast had minor roles and did little to affect the film. The strong leads set this film up for success.
Stockholm is one of the most tame R rated films I can recall. The film has some violence, albeit minor. One police officer is shot in the face, but it is not at all graphic. Another character is shot while wearing a protective vest. There is a lot of shouting and threatening violence, but very little violence. The film also has strong language and some adult themes. Overall, there wasn't much in this film that you wouldn't find on television. I wouldn't set an age range on this film. The material just didn't seem to warrant an R rating to me. Run time is one hour, 32 minutes.
Stockholm is based on true events. I am sure a great deal of this film was fabricated to make things zanier than they actually were. I am sure the true story was very tense and had little in the way of laughter. The film does track actual events and includes the major themes of the original events. The film was packaged well, with a great cast. However, the pacing was my biggest complaint. With better pacing, this film could have been on my "don't miss it" list. Instead, I will place it in the category of a worthwhile matinee screening. 7.5/10.
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