Everyone’s a Critic – Flame & Citron, Faster Reviews

Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic! It’s been about three months since the last EaC post, and as always, we’ve got two very different genres from FC’s loyal readers/contributors. Special thanks to my pals Paula and Ted!

FLAME & CITRON (2008)



Made in Denmark in 2008, and based on actual events, the largely unseen Flame and Citron takes us into the world of two members of Holger Danske, the Danish Resistance during World War II. The Nazis have invaded and taken over Denmark. The Gestapo, Wehrmacht, Abwehr, and SS are everywhere. In this lethal atmosphere, two Danish patriots liquidate traitors—Danes who collaborate with the Nazis—knowing that being caught means certain death. Baby-faced killer Bent (Danish actor Thure Lindhardt), known to the authorities and his colleagues in the Resistance as Flame , is intense and reckless, though there’s an ever-increasing price on this head.

Told by his partner Jørgen to dye his ginger hair or wear a hat, Bent ignores the suggestion. Jørgen, a.k.a Citron (Mads Mikkelsen – Casino Royale, Valhalla Rising), is quiet and determined. He is a relatively old hand at Resistance activities; he was involved before Bent and is the last surviving member of an earlier underground group. His involvement is presumably what led to his split from his wife and his pill habit…he sleeps in his car. They have the chemistry of longtime law enforcement partners chasing bad guys in a buddy picture (which, if you think about it, they are), but these characters are well-drawn and well-acted, so they go beyond rookie and veteran stereotypes. We see their personalities and quirks and are invested from the beginning.

Their boss is the shadowy Aksel Winther, a well-connected police solicitor, who is supposedly getting orders from the British. Can they trust him? Bent and Jørgen, and the viewer, only have Winther’s word for it. Because business must be conducted in secret, no one really knows. “There aren’t many of us, and it’s hard to tell who does what,” Bent says. As the film begins, they run afoul of Winther for a killing he didn’t order. Winther says he just wants them to be disciplined, but later it seems he is shielding some of the traitors who make Bent’s trigger finger itch. Why does Winther order Bent and Jørgen to execute certain people but forbid them from taking out the head of the Gestapo in Denmark? Is he trying to maintain all of their covers or is he a double agent?

Flame and Citron draws on film noir and previous WWII espionage movies. Director Ole Christian Madsen has acknowledged particularly Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 neo-noir Army of Shadows, about a group in the French Resistance. As in that film, colors are mostly desaturated, suggesting the austerity of life during a Nazi occupation. There is a femme fatale, of course. Mysterious and cool, Ketty (Stine Stengade) is introduced with a building dissonance on the soundtrack. She reels Bent in even though he thinks he knows her game. And in the beginning, there is also a weary-detective-style voiceover by Bent, which Madsen uses to place the viewer in much the same position as our anti-heroes. We get pieces of the puzzle, but never really know exactly what’s going on, until the end. If then. But the film is resolutely its own thing—a shadowy spy thriller with a dose of documentary style, a partial history of the Danish Resistance including a side order of star-crossed romance, all in one fascinating and affecting film. As it progresses, there is sense of increasing paranoia as the Nazis close in and the two become tangled in an ever-thickening web of lies. It kept me guessing until the end and made me think about what I would do if I were in their places.

– review by Paula @ Paula’s Cinema Club


FASTER


Faster was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson first true action film since Doom and it was pretty entertaining. The story is about an ex-con who just got released from prison and decided to go on a killing spree to avenge his brother’s death years ago. Along the way, he was being tracked by a contract killer and a veteran cop with a suspect background. The movie pretty much focused on these three characters, The Rock played a character simply named Driver, Billy Bob Thornton played the cop and new comer Oliver Jackson-Cohen played the hired killer. Director George Tillman Jr. was really trying to pay homage to 1970s action thriller, if you’re a fan of 70s cinemas like myself then I think you’ll know what I mean when you see Faster. For the most part he succeeded, but I thought he totally messed up the last 20 or so minutes of the film.

The movie starts out like its title, fast and faster. Driver got out of jail and proceeded to start killing his prey one by one. Then we were introduced to the other two characters, Killer and Cop and also we got to know a little bit about their personal lives. I think it was bold move by the filmmakers to tell the story this way, considering the trailer made it look like the film was about The Rock going on a killing spree and kicking ass, well he did a lot of that. But it was kind of surprise to see these other two characters shared the same amount of screen time as the lead character. I think that’s the weakness of the movie, instead of focusing on the lead actor, they’ve decided to also focus on the two lesser interesting characters. I would’ve preferred to see more of Driver’s background and have the cop and killer just in supporting roles.

As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed this movie up until the last 20 minutes or so. I thought the ending was quite predictable and didn’t live up to its title. I wanted to see hard and fast action for the finally but it never happened. They included the alternate ending on DVD/Blu-ray that has a big action scene but it didn’t make sense so I was glad they cut it out. I just think the writers should’ve came up with a better ending and delivered a rousing action for the climax.

I do recommend it if you’re in the mood from mindless action flick, but don’t expect too much from it.

– review by Ted S.


Any thoughts about either or both of these films? Do share ‘em below in the comments.

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34 thoughts on “Everyone’s a Critic – Flame & Citron, Faster Reviews

  1. wOOt!! First commenter!! Surely thats worth a prize?

    Hi Paula and Ted, lovely reviews and both coming from completely different angles and genres…beaut!

    Flame and Citron sounds like it is the sort of film i would enjoy. Although I have never heard of it. I am a newly born lover of world cinema, and I love spy thrillers. Thanks for sharing Paula.

    Oh Ted, he of the slightly bigger screen than me (whats 8″ between friends), Faster I saw and reviewed a little while back for my site. We both left the film with a similar feeling although you enjoyed it more than I. The last act was just appalling and you could see it coming a mile off. In my review I stated that it wasn’t mindless fun enough I think it tried to hard to be serious and lost the whole side of this type of film that we love…the camp violence. The one liners weren’t funny. Especially the last line of the film…meh I gave it a five out of ten for effort.

    OK but not original.

    Thanks Flixers for putting the reviews together

    C

    1. Paula

      Thanks & you’re welcome Custard…if you like spy flicks and aren’t afraid of subtitles, i think you’ll love it 🙂

      1. I didn’t realize F&C has subtitles, but no it doesn’t bother me. Kinda fun sometimes to see actors speak in their native tongue.

      2. Funk

        Pretty good review and thanks for the heads up, and now it’s a movie I gotta see, anymore, foreign films are my favorites, as long as they are sub-titled that is, if it’s a dubbed version I’ll pass on it.

        1. Paula

          yes i agree, i loathe dubbing! especially since the dubbed voice is usually nothing like the actor’s. I find it really takes me out of the story, and instead of paying attention to what’s going on, i’ll be like, that doesn’t sound anything like Alain Delon…or whoever.

          1. Funk

            Paula, good day to you. I finally got to watch the Danish movie F&C and boy was it a top notch thriller, all I hoped it would be and more, these type movies are always so full of tension, really left you thinking thats for sure. It was good to hear Mads speaking in his native language for once. Thanks again for the amazing post and turning us on to this movie..

            1. You’re welcome Funk, so glad you liked F & C! Mads was great in it, wasn’t he? i actually watched it again since i wrote this & it’s really becoming one of my favorite pictures. And Mads is becoming one of my favorite actors.

              1. Funk

                Yep, I totally agree with you, both on F&C and Mads. He was really really good, best movie I’ve seen him in, he was so good with the scene’s of his family and the torment he was going through, and when he met the other guy in which Mads showed tons of restraint, Mads has a strong screen presence and I hope he has some good screen time in the upcoming Musketeer movie. Right now he’s by hands down my favorite actor. I bought the movie so I’ll be watching it again within the next few weeks. Just can’t believe how good the film was.

                1. Wow that’s great, I’m really happy to hear this because I really wanted more people to see it. I know his wife was having horrible problems & he was the cause but I really felt sorry for him in those scenes. I just thought, he’s trying to save Denmark, for goodness sakes.

                  If he’s in Musketeer, i’m going. I have Valhalla on the DVR right now.

                    1. Funk

                      Man, I can’t wait for the latest Musketeer movie, hope Mads has alot screen time and he just steals the show, be nice if the Danes or French were doing this movie though..

                  1. Funk

                    Valhall Rising, that was a movie I had to watch immediately after I watched it the 1st time, just to see what the heck was that I just watched. Mads is magnificent as One Eye, the scenery is spectacular and it has a haunting movie score. It does have a few brutal scenes in it though and I mean brutal..

                    1. yeah there’s a couple scenes i turn away from but i’m really excited cos i’ve only seen it on a laptop screen before…at least a TV is a little bigger. nothing like a cinema screen but still. it’s just a beautiful gorgeous movie.

    2. Ted S.

      Thanks Custard. Yeah I agree the last 20 minutes or so was such a waste, it could’ve been a lot better had they went with a silly over the top ending, not the serious one.

      @Paula, I’ve never heard of Flame and Citron but I might give it a rent. I do like films from that period of time.

      1. Paula

        i think you will like it then, Ted. 🙂 I’m not an expert on 1940s Denmark but the clothing and settings all looked pretty authentic to me.

  2. I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed Faster. I actually thought it was pretty good. Sure it’s more a mindless action flick, but was still enjoyable I thought. Moreso than I expected going into it.

  3. I thought Faster was a really middle-of-the-road and forgettable movie. The action sequence are completely unspectacular and the story was uninspired.

    1. Ted S.

      It’s a very forgettable film, if Ruth didn’t ask me to write the review after I saw it, I probably couldn’t write the review because I couldn’t really recall what happened in the film. Ha ha.

  4. Funk

    Watched Faster a while back and the Chevelle SS stole the show for me.
    Would very much like to see Flame and Citron, looks like a good one.

    1. I’m glad Paula brought Flame & Citron to my attention, I’ve never even heard of it but it’s on my Netflix queue right now. The story is definitely intriguing, I’m always fascinated by WWII espionage stuff, and I like Mads so it’s a win win.

      1. Funk

        Yes, and I thank you for the review of it to good job, WWII spy action type noir is always at the top of my must watch list , plus it’s a foreign film to boot, seems like I’m seeing more of those these days which is a good thing, nice to know Hollywood has some competition now days, and a chance to see some of Mads, I’d sure like to see his Pusher series.. OH and by the way, a Happy Mothers Day to you as well.:)

      1. Good to know, Paula, I might have to see this sooner rather than later. It’s not as brutal as Inglourious Basterds, right?

  5. Dare I say I quite like Dwayne Johnson as an actor. Even though his films are complete rubbish, he does bring something to the table that makes them worth watching. But then again, his The Rock persona made WWF worth watching too so it isn’t surprising.

    1. Yeah, he’s so darn charismatic isn’t he? You’d think one doesn’t have to be ‘talented’ when you’ve got such screen presence, not to mention hunky! But he’s probably a better actor than most give him credit for, I just wish he picks better stuff.

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