Denmark's supposedly most expensive film to date proves to be a surprisingly interesting, complex, and in places even an exciting proposition. Based on the true story of two resistance fighters in Copenhagen in 1944 during the German occupation, we are introduced to Flame (committed and idealistic young killer of all things Nazi) and his driver, Citron, whose increasing involvement with the dirty end of the business mirrors the final collapse of his family life. They get their orders, they go and kill their targets. However, as the film progresses, the unthinkable happens - they begin to question the targets - is their handler doing the right thing? Is Flame's girlfriend being completely honest? Things begin to go horribly wrong, and Flame and Citron decide they need to follow their own path, choosing their own targets. Far from being a standard whitewashed history as told by the winners of war, this movie has no compunction about showing something rotten in the state of Denmark - and in so doing, allows a more complex look at what it takes to step up to a man or woman in their house or in the street, hold a gun to their head and pull the trigger, than has been seen in a long time.
It's a tad long, and yet is at times so complex you sometimes find yourself wondering what might have been left on the cutting room floor that might have filled in a few questions. Keeping track of who is who is challenging at times as the different resistance factions are not fully explained, and certain minor characters roles in the chain of command are not always clear.. but it's worth the concentration. Certainly the acting from the leads, as well as many of the secondary roles, is outstanding - we really do feel we scratch beneath the surface of the men - particularly Mads Mikkelson's Citron. Morality of war sometimes has more to it than just the war - and here we occasionally find the allies deep in moral ambiguity and corruption, and yet the Gestapo chief is the one with a decent side to him, respectfully covering the bodies of his enemies.
In short, this is well worth watching - a riveting story, a thriller, a tragic tale of war, a drama.. all in one. At times paradoxically beautifully shot, and full of detail, this might have achieved 5 star status with just a little more judicious editing. But that's a small quibble from the year's best war drama so far.