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  Cop Secret Iceland, The Nice Land?
Year: 2021
Director: Hannes Thor Halldorsson
Stars: Audunn Blondal, Eigill Einarsson, Stennun Olina Thorsteindottir, Vivian Olafsdottir, Sverrir Thor Sverrisson, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Juliana Sarah Gunnarsdottir, Steinthor Hroar Steinthorsson, Gunnar Hansson, Jon Gnarr
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: On the mean streets of Reykjavik, another crime has taken place, and as the culprit makes good their escape on a motorcycle, there is only one man who can take them down: Bussi (Audunn Blondal), the greatest cop in the history of Iceland. A man of action who never backs down and never sticks to the rules, as his partner Klemenz (Sverrir Thor Sverrisson) cowers in the passenger seat next to him, he puts pedal to metal and races off after the thief across the urban highways narrowly avoiding any mishaps on the way as he swigs from his hip flask, for a little kick. But what if there was someone else on the force who was just as adept?

Step forward Hordur (Eigill Einarsson), into whose jurisdiction the criminal speeds, and he tells Bussi he'll take it from here. Bristling at losing his catch, our hero throws caution to the wind and gets back in his police car to rush onwards, ending up at the familiar cop thriller surroundings of a warehouse for an equally familiar shootout. Well, you get the idea, Reykjavik's streets aren't mean at all, indeed it's regularly voted the safest city in the world, and that was the joke here, what if you set a high octane action blockbuster in Iceland, where car chases and gunfights don't really happen? It would need a more substantial joke than that, granted.

Just as well there was more to Cop Secret, or Leynillogga as it was called in its native land. Equally sending up and revelling in the cliches, director Hannes Thor Halldorsson, working on the script with stars Blondal, Sverrisson, Einarsson and writer Nina Pederson, introduced an element that was certainly present in many an eighties and nineties action flick, if rarely acted upon: homosexuality. Ever had the impression all those muscular, sweaty men may be contemplating the love that dare not speak its name, not in those sorts of movies, anyway? Here was the story that allowed them catharsis, as Bussi comes to admit he has the hots for his professional rival Hordur.

But was this a joke, or was it a twist? Bussi may be a walking cliché, but that gay part of him is not one of those, and it made him a lot more intriguing even as the other aspects of the plot veered so close to the hackneyed that you would be wondering whether these guys actually really wanted to create an unironic eighties action throwback and the only method they could find to do so was to add the same sex attraction for novelty. Yet even as you suspected the motives, you had to admit their love of the ridiculous in these sources was channelled into a movie that operated surprisingly well on a sincere level, and Bussi coming to terms with his sexuality was not treated as a gag, more something that will enhance his life.

He does have a girlfriend who demands to know why he is paying less and less attention to her, but this was no misogynist effort as an eighties item might have been, where the woman was merely present to get kidnapped or worse, murdered (who are we kidding, that trope is alive and well), as she ends up being perfectly understanding. There was a female villain, but seemingly in the interests of equal opportunities in casting, as the finale took place at a Women's Football World Cup Qualifier between Iceland and England that the whole country is invested in (the director was a goalkeeper for the men's national side). The main bad guy, ex-supermodel Rikki (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson), had a habit of speaking English to his henchmen and antagonists alike in a running joke that may be funnier if you were Icelandic, but the appealing thing about Cop Secret was you could watch it in the spirit of action nostalgia and just as easily in the spirit of progressive entertainment, it succeeded nicely as both. Music by Kristjan Sturla Bjarnason.

[Cop Secret had its UK premiere at LFF on October 6th 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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