As the general run of action films blithely defies the laws of gravity and consequence, what a pleasure to find a movie as grounded, physically and emotionally, as Daniel Espinosa's downbeat pulper Easy Money. A hit in its native Sweden as Snabba Cash, the English title is a piece of cheap irony; this is a crime thriller where no one gets away clean and every action has its irrevocable reaction. Following a novel by lawyer-cum-novelist Jens Lapidus, Easy Money nimbly braids together three narrative strands: South American Jorge (Matias Padin Varela) busts out of prison and goes to work straightaway on a big coke deal; Serbian hit man Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) goes after him at the behest of competing business interests; and lowborn native Swede "J.W." (Joel Kinnaman), an economics major with social-climbing aspirations, chameleons his way into country-estate parties in Mr. Ripley style, drifting into crime in order to pay the tab for his master-of-the-universe imposture. Each man and his hustler's ambition is illustrated by way of quotidian detail — Jorge's family drama, Mrado's forced guardianship of a young daughter, J.W. sewing up a cheap facsimile of preppy dress — and that same intimate attention provides a clear view of variously tempered consciences bending and breaking under pressure.
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