From the start, you can see why Martin Scorsese championed Easy Money (Snabba Cash, from the 2006 best-selling novel by Jens Lapidus). This Swedish gangster flick blasts out from under you like a high-octane muscle car, swerving through prison breakout to thug violence in a john to rich kids at play in an upscale club. Connections are yet to be made, but that red-line narrative momentum has already propelled us into a toxic world of crime and punishment, haves and have-nots.
Like Scorsese, Easy Money helmer Daniel Espinosa believes “gangster films should always be moral stories,” and this good-looking, tautly told, ultra-smart crime story imbeds big issues in riveting action. Everything’s in a state of metastasizing decay, from national borders to economies to familial bonds to individual identity. It’s a picture of an Old World coming apart, with not much of a New Order in sight. But Espinosa isn’t preaching; he keeps his ideas animated, on the move, in the hotwired lives of colorful native sons and nomads: Swedes, Arabs, Serbians, Russians, Armenians, Chileans, et al.
Our ride through these twisty byways is JW (Joel Kinnaman), a good-looking business major who lives in claustrophobic student housing and drives a cab to pay his bills. His kip is plastered with pictures of male models, for our man JW is nothing if not a chameleon, changing style (and even dialect, though we English speakers won’t catch that) to suit whatever class or ethnicity he’s hanging with.