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City State [DVD]
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Hell bent on his mission and determined to protect his family, he gets caught up in a world of warring crime syndicates, drugs, corrupt police and prostitution that quickly spirals out of control with devastating consequences Starring Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Tomorrow Never Dies), City State is a violent and thrilling tale of a city brought to its knees by the underworld.
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Set in modern-day Iceland, the plot revolves around a dominant crimelord who's trying to retire and sell his 'business'. When he over-reacts to the theft of some drugs, he falls foul of an Eastern European mafia family whose brutal methods and youthful savagery threaten to overwhelm his experience and stature.
Parallel plot threads explore and interweave the stories of a corrupt, dissolute older detective (who has fallen in love with a whore) and a brittle but violently determined female SWAT officer (who is also romantically entangled with the wrong person); a fairly hapless wannabe mafia lieutenant (who, similarly, has chosen his bedmate unwisely) into the narrative.
Jonathan Pryce pops up in a small part as an English gangster; beautifully played but not on screen for long. The star of the film is undoubtedly the Serbian mechanic whose righteous revenge drives the whole story forward to its predictable (but still satisfying) conclusion.
City State was produced with miniscule resources, and perhaps that shows in the plotting. It sets several interesting balls rolling but wraps things up a little lazily at the end. The result is that it creates several extremely memorable characters and they tend to overshadow the story. However, the film-makers certainly used what budget they had creatively and effectively - the photography is stylish without being pretentious: it's tautly atmospheric and grimly realistic in its depiction of the several intense violent encounters. The scenes with the SWAT team unofficially exacting revenge are particularly powerful.
It's also interesting to view a unromanticised interpretation of modern day Reykjavik - don't pick this up expecting to see sweeping landscapes of Icelandic lava flows and volcanos, or bleakly beautiful screenshots of snow and ice. City State captures the claustrophobic, buttoned-down intensity of Nordic noir, but it does so without employing those standard shots which are becoming clichés...
So not a classic Scandinavian thriller - but definitely a decent evening's entertainment.
Well she over reacts and has a miscarriage. So consumed with grief and revenge he decides to assuage his enmity on his erstwhile employer, and gets his Serbian crew together to take over the rackets once and for all. We also have uber crime Lord Gunnar who is in cahoots with the police but is trying to retire and Andrea a very, very bad cop who is prepared to do more than bend the rules to get to the bottom of the wholes sorry mess. You just know that bad things are going to happen and they do rather quickly.
This is quite a brutal story with plenty of violence and some good performances. The story is told in an episodic fashion that helps bring the various strands together. The issues around prostitution are alluded to but only briefly and the violence is done only where appropriate based on the context of the action, so all pretty good. The riot cop dudes on the cover are only in this for a short piece and Jonathan Pryce spends about the same amount of limited, on screen time too, in case you are a fan.
The big problem is knowing who the good guys are, they are all nasty to varying degrees which does not help build up very much in the empathy bank for the grieving Sergej or his conspirators. That in one way is a good thing as no one is all `good' really but belated attempts at eliciting sympathy seem a bit pointless in the overall plot of the film, so could have been left out. That said this is still a very good effort from all involved and is entertaining, and I felt could have been a bit longer to give more of a read out to the ending, but at 87 minutes long you are still getting good value for money, Iceland continues to produce some great films and if you enjoy this then check out `Blacks Game' which is ruddy excellent.
The film is set in Iceland's dark underbelly of corruption, prostitution and violence. It starts off quite well, characters are introduced and gradually drawn together through a series of events. However the film soon begins to lose the spark from the beginning as the violence increases as the story falters.
It all begins with a crooked drug deal involving a small group of Serbians who vow revenge on the local crime boss. The same crime boss (the excellent Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) has just had a recent health scare and is looking to sell up his business rackets (Pryce being a prospective buyer in his two short scenes) but unfortunately for him, the Serbs are taking this personally and don't wish to negotiate. Add to the mix a corrupt and cowardly police officer stuck in the middle, a cop out for revenge on Ingvar Eggert and cops ready to fight fire with fire. All entangled in a turf war between the locals and a new threat.
A bright start which falters when the film starts to move away from the characters and more towards an all too familiar conclusion with films of this genre.