Starring Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong, Christopher Heyerdahl
Hawke re-connects with "Born to be Blue" director Robert Budreau for the wackiest bank robbery since "Bandits" (2011). "Stockholm" happens to be a comedic retelling of the 1973 bank robbery that led to the coining of the term Stockholm syndrome, despite much of the reality being altered for the film. "Stockholm" is often quite entertaining thanks to the performance of Hawke, doing one of his most zany characters, and the way Rapace conveys so much with her eyes and mannerisms. “The situation grows stranger still,” one reporter says outside the bank being robbed. “Like an American movie.” The strangeness and unpredictability helps to keep the viewer engaged, even when some of the plot twists feel absurd.
Lars Nystrom (Hawke) marches into one of the most well-regarded banks in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973, wearing a leather jacket with a Texas flag printed on the back. He sets up his portable radio on the counter, pulls out a submachine gun, fires it into the air and tells everyone to get on the floor. It looks like a typical bank robbery until Nystrom demands his best friend Gunnar Sorensson (Strong) be released from prison or he’ll start killing hostages. Swedish authorities are at a loss about what to do, calling Nystrom’s bluff at every turn. Bank teller Bianca Lind (Rapace) was the one who presses the emergency button which alerts the police, but in less than 24 hours, she is one of the few people left inside trying to protect Nystrom from himself and the authorities. Chief Mattsson (Heyerdahl) is determined to outsmart the culprit, but understanding what’s actually happening will be his most difficult task.
Once you accept the films comedic intentions, "Stockholm" works, for the most part.
It’s not clear until about midway through that "Stockholm," is, in fact, a comedy. It’s easy just to accept that Hawke’s character is crazy, but the script is trying to be funny. Once you accept the films comedic intentions, "Stockholm" works, for the most part. Budreau’s script doesn’t quite drive home the fact that the events of August 1973 are truly unprecedented in Sweden’s history. It also expects the audience to infer the events we are watching, as crazy as they are, are the basis for what we now call Stockholm syndrome. However, there is an issue there, because Lind’s character mirror’s Cate Blanchett’s in "Bandits" a bit, so she isn’t so sympathetic with her captors as she is bored with her own life. So much so that anything exciting would have changed her life. Actually, Rapace is the real thief here, stealing the movie from the rest of the actors.
There is a point in this 93-minute movie where it becomes all too much for the audience to accept. The stupidity on all sides begins to affect the judgment both on screen and off, leaving the audience begging for a conclusion. "Stockholm" eventually parts ways from the "Bandits" similarities, but what was funny for an hour starts to appear desperate near the end. Like the characters themselves, eventually, the story also becomes trapped on all sides. "Stockholm" would be the perfect little movie to watch on a long airplane ride. Hawke continues to take interesting roles that vary greatly from what he has done in the past. Mark Strong and the rest of the cast can’t match Hawke’s colorful nature here, which makes the story seem dull anytime it isn’t focused on the Texan.
"Stockholm" has it’s kooky moments thanks to good performances from Hawke and Rapace.