This is a comedy. It’s got an international sensitivity so the humour, though dark and black, is tricky to navigate. In Order of Disappearance, in its white vistas and father-on-a-killing-spree plot, seems to downplay the connection it could have to recent Daddy-action romps Taken and Three Days to Kill. This time with Stellan Skarsgård in the Dad role, rather than merely kidnapped, his son has been murdered and he is hunting down those responsible, one-by-one.
Nils Dickmann (Skarsgård) is introduced as “Citizen of the Year” through his expert snow-ploughing skills (something Stellan Skarsgård told Flickering Myth was a huge amount of fun). The Twin Peaks Norwegian village he lives within seems to include a vast array of different drug-financed criminals including Dickmann’s brother – though he decided to settle down. His son is killed unceremoniously in the opening moments and Nils first reaction is to blow his own head off, until his a friend of his son, Finn (Tobias Santelmann), pops up and changes his mind. As Nils works his way up the chain (with a single cross alongside a name when each character is killed) the stakes get higher and multiple gangs are involved, including Serbian’s led by Bruno Ganz.
There is surely a point being made when films praise the older, traditional man against the young upstarts who kill recklessly and break the law. In Order of Disappearance features clumsy and proud villains, and Nils seems to take each character down with ease. In a similar manner to Fargo, In Order of Disappearance uses the snow-scape to give a sense of innocence to this small village before showing the ugly truth beneath the surface. The kills he racks up forces a pause for the moment, as Nils erodes away his own innocence too. His introverted persona makes each death play out in quiet succession, as if he is simply taking out the trash. Writer Kim Fupz Aakeson also seems to play around with cinema references, squeezing in banter about the ridiculous names of criminals (“Wingman”, “Chinaman”, etc) or explicitly stating his inspirations, as Nils brother tells him “When did you become Dirty Harry?”
In Order of Disappearance is a strange beast. With expected laughs from ludicrous moments involving snow-ploughs and para-skiers, it also hints at an interesting edge as henchmen are shown to have backstories and nuanced characteristics that fail to resonate throughout the story. We are told how “young people destroying themselves” is commonplace and police seem to shy away from tackling the crime too – is this part of the comedy? Or is this a serious side-note? It feels muddled or simply aimed at a niche audience.