he Swedish film industry isn't exactly known for
their action movies, but after credible shoot-em-ups such as "Ranarna"
("The Robbers") and "Executive
Protection", there seems to be an interest in widening the scope of
what can be called "Swedish films". "Hotet" ("The
Threat" in English) follows along the lines of "Ranarna"
rather than "Protection", in that it looks to have a reasonably
high budget (as least by Swedish film industry standards), and the storyline
would seem more comfortable in a Jerry Bruckheimer Hollywood actioner
starring Nicholas Cage or one of those pretty boy actors currently in his
stable. Alas, while the storyline seems to contain some kernel of ambition,
the narrative as envisioned by the writers of "Hotet" and director
Kjell Sundvall is less than thrilling.
hapless military computer guy Lasse (Shanti Roney), a happily married family
man with one 8-year old tyke and a hot wife (Maria Bonnevie) who is pregnant
with their second child. Lasse works for the Swedish military, and is
involved in the creation and testing of a high-tech device that allows
fighter jets to avoid radar detection, or some such. The movie really
doesn't go into any great detail concerning the device, not that it matters,
as the EVS or EWS or whatever it's called is simply nothing more than a
McGuffin -- the device/object/goal that sets the movie's plots in motion. To
wit: Lasse is approached by some unsavory mercenary types led by an English
speaking Jacek (Dejan Cukic), who wants Lasse to help him steal the
To convince Lasse, Jacek shows that he has intimate
knowledge of Lasse's activities and relatives, and even reveals that
Lasse's wife was pregnant and had a miscarriage, two things Lasse didn't
have a clue about. Lasse reluctantly does Jacek's bidding (although
getting brow beat by his wife to go along with the bad guys probably
didn't help to steel his resolve), but proves to be just a bit smarter
than the villains, and manages to prevent the theft of the McGuffin, if
just barely. Further complicating Lasse's stressful situation is Major
Haglund (Stefan Sauk, who was also in "Ranarna"), a military
commando/spook sent to oversee an important upcoming NATO missile test. A
courtesy scene reveals that Haglund is a wayward father, and he's taken
the job only because he wants to re-insert himself into his now-adult
daughter's life. It's pathos, doncha know.
Much of "Hotet" depends on exposition, and
it's rather amazing just how little of said exposition the film provides.
It's not as if the filmmakers were going for subtlety or asking the
audience to think for themselves; they simply have left gaping plot holes
in the wake of their story, and don't seem overly concern that a lot of
stuff happens in "Hotet" that are never explained or followed up
on. As such, when Haglund and Jacek finally meets up at the end of the
movie, we get an awkward bit of exposition about how the two knew each
other from way back, and that Haglund has been after Jacek all this time.
Funny, because that never came up until Haglund told us. Why, it's almost
as if the writers made it up on the spot.
In a movie like "Hotet", the villains make
the movie, especially since the hero is basically a bumbling computer nerd
who never shows an ability to protect himself, and never develops such
ability throughout the film. Haglund, the anti-hero, is supposed to be a
tough ex-Special Forces man, but he mostly spends the movie skulking about
looking mean. Not that the bad guys are any more impressionable. Jacek
wants to steal the McGuffin, probably to sell it (it's never explained why
he wants it), and he's hired some Swedish mercs to help him. Except there
are only three mercs, and they're as imposing as Frosty the Snowman.
The film's most hilarious sequence (albeit
unintentionally) involves the bad guys trying to get away on snowmobiles
as Haglund and his super duper Special Forces guys give chase via
helicopters. The sequence goes on for way too long, ending with one group
of bad guys riding off a cliff and another crashing. Instead of arresting
the bad guys and interrogating them for answers, Haglund and his men
murders them in cold blood right there in the snow. Not that the rest of
the film makes any more sense, mind you. There are about two sequences
that can justifiably be called action scenes in the whole movie, and one
is that snowmobile chase mentioned above. The other takes place at the
end, but like the snowmobile, it's drawn out and as thrilling as watching
As an action movie, "Hotet" fails badly.
The film barely manages any reasonable tension, especially since the bad
guys are dumber than Anna Nicole Smith stuffing her face with pepperoni pizza.
After Lasse foils their plan with a bit of quick thinking, Jacek and the
mercs turn on one another because the mercs demand more money. Soon Jacek
finds himself alone, but still determined to grab that McGuffin. With the
bad guys (well, bad guy now) still after him, Lasse grabs his
family and whisks them into the countryside, where he puts his
shotgun-toting geriatric father-in-law in charge of protecting his
precious wife and kid. Yes, it's true; Lasse may know a lot about
computers, but this guy has the common sense of a rock.
If I'm giving the impression that "Hotet"
is a bad, bad movie, you're not wrong. It fails miserably as an action
film, and can't even be bothered to be mildly interesting in-between the
cursory two or so action sequences. There's no character development for
Lasse at all, and what little contrived pathos that gets tossed Haglund's
way comes across as an afterthought. A better casting choice would have
been to make Sauk, with his bellicose face and personality, the bad guy
and Cukic, with his babyface and smirks, one of the good guys. Jacek, as
assayed by Dejan Cukic, is such a lousy bad guy that Hans Gruber would
shoot him in the back just out of spite.
On the plus side, the film is technically well done,
and the (relatively) big budget shows. The Swedish countryside gets a lot
of well-deserved exposure, but unfortunately "Hotet" is a movie,
and not a travel guide. Who knows? It might have worked better as a
brochure for tourists to visit Sweden. It certainly looks like a fine
place to visit, but you wouldn't want to stay there for the movies.
If "Ranarna" and "Executive
Protection" furthered the advances of Swedish action movies, then
"Hotet" just took the Swedish film industry about five steps
backwards. It's simply not a very good film, with lackluster performances
from leading man Shanti Roney right down to the lovely Maria Bonnevie. In
fact, the movie is such a waste of time that its best moment is near the
end, when bad guy Jacek decides that he, too, thinks Maria Bonnevie is
quite a looker, and starts groping her. That was unexpected, but pretty