This 2019 neo-noir action film, based on the comic series of the same name, is directed by Jonas Åkerlund and stars Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick and Matt Lucas.
As the world’s greatest assassins Duncan ‘The Black Kaiser’ Vizla prepares to retire, his boss Mr Blut (Lucas) decides it’s more profitable for him to be killed rather than pay out a generous pension scheme. As Vizla seeks a quiet, reclusive life, his former colleagues hunt him down to take him out. Vizla befriends a timid young girl, Camille (Hudgens) and helps her try to find some confidence in the world. But Vizla can’t hide for long, and is forced to take drastic action to save both him and Camille when Blut catches up to them with his army of killers…
Mads Mikkelsen has an air around him of quiet mystery with an electrifying presence in his screen work bolstered by roguish good looks and a thick Danish accent. He’s battled James Bond in Casino Royale, confronted Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange and many more memorable turns in work such as Hannibal on TV and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
When a poster is dropped showing Mads sporting stubble, an eye patch, a black trench coat and surrounded by tech-noir rain holding a pistol looking like a man with nothing to lose…hairs on the back of your neck tingle. A Netflix original production like this certainly sounded promising and looked to be something dark, dangerous and entertaining.
Fast-forward to 1hr 20mins in before things really get going, you ask yourself what the hell have you just sat through to get here? The answer to that is some awfully acted, directed, written and staged “neo-noir” tripe in recent years. There’s nothing neo-noir about this mess.
It feels like two movies welded together. We have Mads and Vanessa Hudgens (who is a very random character only here for one plot point) in their secluded, cold and snowy slice of nature haunted by nightmares and the pressure of celebrating a birthday alone; trying to make a normal life when one is plagued by a life of killing. In the next scene we are back to some surreal, student film guns and gore story about Vizla’s former colleagues tracking him down across America killing anyone and all they encounter in a flurry of bad acting, dialogue and CGI jam splurting across the screen. It’s like watching something Tommy Wiseau would make, thinking it’s the next ‘Reservoir Dogs’.
Add to this a master villain called Blut played by British comedian Matt Lucas, famed for playing cross-dressing ladies, council estate layabouts and a homosexual Welshman on TV, and you’ll feel like you’re watching a strange TV sketch waiting for Simon Pegg to pop up whenever he’s on screen hamming it up.
You desperately want Mads to save both the film and your attention, but he doesn’t get the chance until the final half hour when things come together and the wheat is separated from the chaff and we get what we were teased. Utter chaos. Mads becomes the Danish John Wick for half an hour of brutality that comes across with balletic beauty. While not as honed as the John Wick character himself, Mads becomes the man we wanted to see an hour ago and totally demands the screen as he makes short work of every bad guy he comes across. It makes sense when you see how quick he stabs and shoots through them why they held it off the final few minutes…the movie would be over by the 1st act. Which, with the tripe we’ve had to sit through, wouldn’t have been a bad thing. It’s such a shame Mads was roped into this.
Next time you settle down to watch something that teases such bad-ass thrills from its lead star and poster, if it starts with ‘Jackass’ star Johnny Knoxville displaying a Viagra-induced erection under his swimming shorts as he gets shot in the head….turn off, quickly. It’s NOT going to be worth it.
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Directed by: Jonas Åkerlund
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Matt Lucas