The strange but true story that gave us the term "Stockholm Syndrome" is brought to life with some inspired performances, but it ultimately fails to hold the audience captive.
A strange and quite rare thing happens to the mind under high levels of pressure and stress. In the case of "Stockholm Syndrome," it means that a person who is taken hostage ends up sympathizing with, and even defending, their captor. This phrase came into wide use following a real-life bank heist in Stockholm, Sweden back in 1973, when a known criminal robbed a Swedish bank and held four prisoners hostage...all of which was covered on live television, and captivated the entire nation.
For unknown reasons, writer/director Robert Budreau ("Born to be Blue") has changed the names of the players, and even the bank that was robbed, for his semi-fictionalized retelling. In his version, Kaj Hansson (played by Ethan Hawke, based on the real-life criminal Jan-Erik Olsson) dons a wig and a cowboy hat and runs into a busy Swedish bank guns-a-blazin'. One of the bank tellers that he takes hostage is Bianca Lind (played by Noomi Rapace, based on the real-life captive Kristin Enmark), who slowly becomes...well..."captivated" by the charming Hansson. As part of his demands, he orders that Swedish Police bring him current inmate, Gunnar Sorensson (played by Mark Strong, based on the real-life Clark Olofsson), a friend of his that he had hoped to flee with after this fiasco had finished.
While Budreau uses some real happenings in this film (Olsson does shoot a gun out of the hand of a Swedish policeman who tries entering the building), the whole thing is just absurd, as it was in real life. The problem is that the film almost takes the subject too lightly, never really explaining why this is even happening. The story of Bianca developing her "Stockholm Syndrome" is even less believable, and there is not enough chemistry between any of the actors to really make this thing gel.
"Stockholm" has a cool 1970s look and a few dark laughs, and yes as always, Ethan Hawke raises up the material from where it would have been with a lesser actor. But it's not enough to bank on.
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama.
Run Time: 1 hour 32 minutes.
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong, Christopher Heyerdahl, Hanneke Talbot, Bea Santos.
Written and Directed by Robert Budreau ("Born to be Blue," "That Beautiful Somewhere").
"Stockholm" opens on Friday, April 26th, 2019.
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