Stockholm

An American cowboy criminal flies to Sweden to host their first hostage situation. I mean, I don’t think he’s particularly interested in setting precedents, which is funny, because as you might have gleaned from the title, he’s about to create a situation that’ll become famous enough to named after it.

Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke) holds up a bank in Stockholm, but he doesn’t rob it. Instead, he uses it as leverage to have old buddy Gunnar Sorenson (Mark Strong) released from prison. On a roll, he throws in some extras, like a million dollars cash, bullet-proof vests, and a getaway car – standard bank robber demands. The dude doesn’t have an original bone in his body. He’s also not a planner: he asks specifically for a Mustang, and as someone who has not one but two of them in the driveway, I can tell you, you aren’t fitting hostages in that backseat. It’s a two-door car. When you’re running from the law, you don’t have precious minutes to waste trying to fold up grown-ups into a non-existent backseat.

But anyway. Lars has taken a couple of lovely ladies hostage, which is the kind he prefers. And also a dude, who hid rather than evacuated.

Stockholm syndrome is a condition which causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. Sure it’s strictly irrational, but fear and stress and tension do create a rather specific kind of intimacy. Hostages and hostage-takers may feel like they’ve been through something together. It’s a form of bonding, in a weird way. It doesn’t make sense, but trauma does fucked up things sometimes. Stockholm syndrome is a fucked up thing.

Why would bank teller, wife, and mother Bianca (Noomi Rapace) bond with her captor? Perhaps partly because the cops seem inept. They’re not doing enough to save her and the others. The Prime Minister is not allowing the robbers to leave with hostages, and so they stay, festering in the bank.

Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace give terrific performances, but they’re stunted by a script that fails to do justice to the real events it portrays. Egregiously, it fails to sell the syndrome that gives it its title. I never felt a strong bond between captor and captives, certainly not one that would justify the three hostages not only refusing to testify, but fundraising for the dude’s defense. I rarely felt connected to anyone, or moved by anyone and I never felt any definitive chemistry between the characters either. This is not merely a missed opportunity, but supposedly the whole point of the movie, and it’s delivered so weakly it may as well not exist. I will not and cannot recommend what was ultimately a disappointment.

8 thoughts on “Stockholm

  1. Orca Flotta

    “a Mustang, and as someone who has not one but two of them in the driveway, I can tell you, you aren’t fitting hostages in that backseat.”

    That’s why you got 2 of ’em, Jay?

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  2. Keith

    I can see where you’re coming from, but I gotta admit to enjoying this. I don’t think the movie is really interested in the psychology at all. It’s just a light-hearted re-telling of a truly absurd story. I do think it takes some pretty funny jabs at police and the media.

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  3. joel watches movies

    yeah i’m with Keith- it certainly falls short in the character development department, so I hear you there, Jay, for sure. But watching it as a purely plot-based flick with some good comedy and thrills I thought it was a fun romp.

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  4. Divorce With Me

    I just watched 3/4 of this on a plane… and then landed so I’d be interested in finishing it to get a full perspective on it. I was entertained as it was kinda funny to me. And I liked Ethan Hawke and really like Noomi Rapace as an actor. I was somehow still intrigued by the awkwardness of the characters. But I get your point on them not having much depth. They seemed like caricatures of the real folks they portrayed. Not sure if it was meant to be like that but if it was, it was comical. If it was meant to bring attention or understanding to the syndrome…then it failed. Lol

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