I’m the first to admit that the selections this week on DVD & Blu-Ray are admittedly a little slim, however with a little bit of patience and effort you can unearth a real gem of a film that almost no one has heard of. “City State” is a gritty crime drama where the best of intentions go horribly wrong.
Set in modern day Iceland, an immigrant vows revenge after losing his unborn child in an attack by a crime syndicate, thereby binding his fate with a troubled policewoman, her corrupt police commander, and a crime lord who’s losing his edge. He’s quickly caught up in a world that quickly spirals out of control with some devastating consequences.
A crime drama that tries to be sweeping and epic much like “The Godfather” or even something like “Casino” or “Heat”, just fails as it doesn’t have enough weight behind it to really stick. Writer/director Olaf De Fleur simply put far too many characters in this short running story that is filled with an abundance of quick cuts that make it hard to follow the narrative. The dialogue isn’t bad, and the set up is fairly believable but it tries to cram so much information on the screen, that we as an audience simply get overloaded and don’t know or just don’t care about what is going on, so when something horrible happens on screen our reaction is essentially, nothing. It’s the kind of film that is trying to be existential and deep, but just doesn’t have enough in it in order to pull it off. This narrative never truly allows us to connect with any of the characters that get thrown at the screen at far too high a clip.
The ensemble cast is mostly Icelandic (not a shocker, it was shot there) and no one was bad, however for North American audiences there really isn’t anyone recognizable here although veteran British stalwarts Jonathan Pryce and Philip Jackson both show up in small roles. In spite of that, there was truly no one to legitimately grasp on to in this story that was overloaded with characters that were for the most part underdeveloped.
Special features on the DVD include a making of featurette and interviews with the cast and crew.
Ultimately, “City State” tries to do far too much with some pretty underwhelming results as it tries to be the crime thriller it aspires so desperately to.
1 out of 5 stars.
“City State’ is now available to rent on DVD or on demand from all major providers, you can also find it for purchase at all major retailers like iTunes, HMV and amazon.ca.
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