Originally released in its native Sweden back in January 2010, it has taken a while for Snabba Cash — titled Easy Money for its American release — to come to the United States. It had a very limited theatrical release back in July 2012 and is finally coming out on DVD, probably because star Joel Kinnaman has since become more familiar to American audiences in the AMC series The Killing.
In Easy Money, the lives of three characters intersect in the seedy crime underbelly of Sweden. Jorge (Matias Varela) escapes from prison and is pursued both by the police and by Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic), an enforcer for the Swedish mafia. Mrado’s pursuit is complicated when he is forced to take custody of his eight year-old daughter. Meanwhile, JW (Kinnaman) is a handsome business school student who lives way above his means partying with his much richer friends, going as far as buying cheap shirts and replacing the buttons with buttons from designer shirts. It especially becomes an issue when he meets Sophie (Lisa Henni), a rich girl whom he starts dating and tries to maintain the image of wealth. He gets involved in the lives of both Jorge and Mrado to try and earn the proverbial easy money, but as one would expect, nothing goes to plan for any of them.
Easy Money is shot effectively and fits well in the crime thrillers pioneered by Martin Scorsese — it’s no surprise that Scorsese is listed as a “presenter” of the U.S. release of the film (though his name is listed nowhere on the packaging, only in the opening credits!) In fact, the film’s plot really resembles The Departed with all of its crosses and double-crosses. Director Daniel Espinosa, who later directed the 2012 American film Safe House, is clearly a student of Scorsese and while this film is undoubtedly a Scorsese imitation it is a very well-made one. Nevertheless, it does have its issues. In particular, it really doesn’t need to be a two-hour movie — it has a bit too much spotlight on JW, especially in the scenes that show how woefully unprepared he is to enter a life of crime (it’s one of those “we get it already, he can’t handle the pressure!) I know Kinnaman is the most familiar face to American audiences, but JW is definitely misrepresented on the DVD case as a well-dressed, gun-toting suave figure. The music is also an odd fit for the film and takes away from the tension. In fact, for a thriller it more-or-less lacks tension as a whole, so while it’s entertaining you won’t be at the edge of the seat.
However, if you’re a fan of crime thrillers there is a lot to like about Easy Money because it’s a reliable does of everything you likely love about those films. Just because it doesn’t do anything original and won’t have you on the edge of your seat doesn’t mean it’s not worth a look. In fact, at the end of last year a sequel, Easy Money II, was released overseas and I wouldn’t mind checking that out down the road if its on the same level as its predecessor.
As usual with international films that are released direct-to-video here in the U.S., The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay didn’t spend any money on features, so you get nothing here.
Movie Rating: A solid crime thriller that may not be fresh, but has its strong points (6/10).
Disc Rating: Because of the lack of features on the disc, you might want to wait to see this on cable or NetFlix (3/10).
Easy Money will be released on DVD on March 26.