STOCKHOLM – Review
Ever wonder why they call the phenomenon where hostages bond with their captor “Stockholm syndrome?” The semi-comic crime film STOCKHOLM answers that question, in a tale based on a 1973 true incident. Ethan Hawke stars as a crook who walks into a Stockholm bank wearing a long-haired wig and sunglasses, toting a bag full of weaponry, and proceeds to take hostages. However, he is not there to rob the bank. Instead he demands the release of a friend, imprisoned bank robber Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong). As the stand-off with authorities drags on, the hostagetaker shows a softer, houman side and starts to form a tentative bond with one of the bank employees he’s holding, Bianca, played by Noomi Rapace, the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
There are undeniable parallels to DOG DAY AFTERNOON in writer/director Robert Budreau’s film but STOCKHOLM is a smaller, less ambitious film, an absurd tale with a sweeter, even comic side. It is not what we expect at the film’s start, as we watch Ethan Hawke’s character don his disguise and walk into the bank toting his bag of weaponry.
The film’s major charm is Ethan Hawke’s performance as this small time crook who isn’t really cut out for the work and whose heart isn’t really in it. Ethan Hawke gives us unexpected layers to this character and his scenes with Rapace are particularly good. Hawke’s slightly sad character has an underlying decency that Rapace’s character picks up on. Rapace’s character is a practical-minded wife and mother, who when she gets to speak to her husband by phone shortly after being taken prisoner, gives him detailed instructions for cooking the fish for dinner. It is the kind of dry, absurdist humor STOCKHOLM deals in.
Mark Strong also turns in a good performance as a kind of more grounded foil to Hawke’s impractical dreamer. The police chief Mattsson (Christopher Heyerdahl) handling the hostage situation is an arrogant, irritating fellow, and the other negotiators are equally unpleasant and duplicitous, which helps slant sentiment towards both the hostages and the crooks. As the stand-off drags on, we get to know the hostages and the crooks much better as people, and the closeness that starts to evolve between them makes more sense than you expect.
STOCKHOLM does not compare to DOG DAY AFTERNOON in scope or strength, but it is a surprisingly sweet character study, largely thanks to Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace. STOCKHOLM opens Friday, April 26, at AMC’s West Olive 16 Theater.
RATING: 3 out of 5 stars