DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
PUSHER II: WITH BLOOD ON MY HANDS (director/writer: Nicolas Winding Refn; cinematographer: Morten Søborg; editors: Janus Billeskov Jansen/Anne Østerud; music: Peter Peter; cast:  Mads Mikkelsen (Tonny), Leif Sylvester Petersen (Duke), Anne Sorensen (Charlotte), Kurt Nielsen (Kusse Kurt), Oyvind Hagen-Traberg (Ø), Maria Erwolter (Gry), Karsten Schroder (Rode), Zlatko Buric (Milo); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Henrik Danstrup/Nicolas Winding Refn; Magnolia Pictures; 2004-Denmark-in Danish with English subtitles)

 
"An ugly urban story not meant for the genteel."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This is the second part of talented Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn's ("Bleeder"/"Fear X ") uncompromising gritty crime drama Pusher trilogy, an ugly urban story not meant for the genteel. Refn's three films, made between 1996 and 2005, are about a group of low-level drug dealers in Copenhagen—each with a different low-life protagonist. It's a nasty film that takes you inside the head of a sleazeball punky career criminal and fills the screen with a bunch of unpleasant amoral characters with no redeeming social qualities. The film tells its slight story by using full-scale violence, car thieving, black humor, comical sex with prostitutes and by covering the drug scene, and offers an anti-hero whose dreams of rising as a criminal become squashed as in reality everything he touches goes wrong.

The dim, pleasure-seeker, fuck-up, Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen), the prodigal son of Copenhagen underworld crime boss, The Duke (Leif Sylvester Petersen), is released from prison on parole after beaten by fellow inmates for playing ball with the pigs before his arrest. Tonny comes out sporting a shaven head with scars and the word 'respect' tattooed on the back of his skull and is covered with body art, and visits his disapproving father's dockside chop shop hoping to get work to ingratiate himself with the old man. But Dad is pissed that his son is in debt again and cares only about his youngest son Valdemar, from a different mother, but throws him a bone to be part of a car showroom heist. Tonny also learns that his slutty girlfriend Charlotte (Anne Sorensen) is the mother of his new-born son and besides insultingly calling him a loser retard demands child-support. Charlotte is more interested in snorting cocaine than mothering the child, which even gets to the addle-brained Tonny to eventually identify with this helpless child who like him also didn't ask to be born.

How Tonny's dreams to gain respect as a criminal come crashing down after his jail release begin as he finds he can't get an erection visiting the local whorehouse, that stealing a Ferrari doesn't please his cold dad who believes such luxury cars shouldn't be stolen unless there's an order for them because they conceal a chip that the cops can hone in on, that he gets sucked into a drug deal with his imbecilic pal (Kurt Nielsen) as an enforcer only to learn that his father is owed money by the same low-level dealer, and that he eventually loses it and takes his vengeance out on his father and girlfriend—viewed as creatures from hell.' I guess the proverb "What you sow, is what you reap" applies here.

Mikkelsen carries the pic through his convincing dumb looks, unabashed crassness and photogenic ability to let us look through him as he quietly without much dialogue tells us all we want to know about living on the edge as a guileless street person who veers from vulnerability to brutality. The only surprise for some might be that this 'trip down the wild side' takes place in the not usually acknowledged mean streets of Copenhagen and not in someplace like New York City.

REVIEWED ON 1/9/2009       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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