Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands (2004)

Cheesy ink I watched Pusher well over a year ago. I don't remember many of the details, but I remember that most of the characters were unlikable. This makes it difficult to connect with the movie and you end up with an uncomfortable distance. The main character was a dealer. He was emotionally dead, except about his dog (if I recall correctly), but even that wasn't enough.

Earlier this year while at Dan's birthday party, he asked me if I'd seen the Pusher Trilogy. It was then that I learned that it had been a trio of movies about drug dealers. I told him I'd hated Pusher, so I figured it wasn't for me. He mentioned that Pusher II had starred Mads Mikkelsen, whom I admire. Mikkelsen is one of the Danish Golden Boys of Cinema. He's an excellent actor with great acting chops and an enticing face.

Tonny (Mikkelsen) has just been released from prison. Doesn't take long to figure out he's a screw up. What does he want most? To be a good thug and gain the love and appreciation of his hard-as-nails gangster dad, but daddy already has a favorite--Tonny's half-brother, Valdemar (approximate age: 8). Tonny can't make a right move. He's everyone's scapegoat and can't escape his loser-dom. No one respects him and he's used to it, joining in on the laughter. These moments are especially difficult to watch because although his motivations are questionable, you can't help fall for the fact that all Tonny wants is to be liked and respected, which eludes him. He's told he has a child from a past hook-up. Again, we learn that it's his fault, although it isn't certain the baby is actually his. He's reluctant to take the paternity test, although as the movie progresses, it seems he's more afraid of the child not being his. The only thing he seems good at is connecting with this kid; when he holds the baby, his reaction is palpable. The movie is cold and distant because of the world it plays in; it's violent and you realize this is no lightweight movie. It's favorable to stay in character and away from that maudlin vein that takes dark topics and glibly molds them into "touchy-feely" pieces of crap. I can't say that I'm not a victim of wanting a bit of that...a scrap to help me connect but this one was on my mind for a long time afterwards. The ending is especially symbolic. It speaks leagues to Tonny doing something to get the love that's been elusive.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Country: Denmark

Genre: Action/Gangster

Minutes:  100 minutes

Scale: 3.5

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