Pusher 2: With Blood on my Hands Made in: Denmark Language: Danish Director: Nicolas Winding Refn Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Leif Sylvester, Anne Sørensen, Maria Erwolter, Kurt Nielsen, Øyvind Hagen-Traberg Year: 2004
Synopsis: Taking place several years after the first of Nicolas Winding Refn's drug movies, this one follows small-time crook Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen), who, as you may recall, got his head bashed in during the first film.
After doing hard time, Tonny returns to his crime boss father, better known as the Duke (Leif Sylvester). After a chilly reception, it becomes quite clear that Tonny's practically been disowned, and that gaining acceptance in his father's business will be nearly impossible.
Far from being rehabilitated during his time behind bars, Tonny's criminal behavior and overall poor judgment remain perfectly intact and soon he finds himself doing stupid stuff again. He steals cars, visits nasty hookers, and tokes up.
Then he accompanies his friend Kurt (Kurt Nielsen) to a drug deal that ends up going wrong. Although it wasn't Tonny fault, he gets dragged into helping Kurt resort to extreme measures to solve the dilemma.
And soon Tonny learns that he may have had a child with Charlotte (Anne Sørensen), a young woman who's slept with just about everyone in Scandinavia. While getting used to the idea of fatherhood, Tonny has to find a way to deal with the serious issues he has with his own father...but not until he does more lines of coke than a rock star...
Remarks: According to director Nicolas Winding Refn, the storyline of Pusher 2 isn't very important. In fact, there isn't much of a plot at all.
This foreign film is mainly a series of detailed character studies and bad situations that we see Tonny get himself into. The grittiness and feel of the first Pusher movie is present here, but this equally depressing sequel is more technically refined and flows a little more smoothly.
According to Refn, the typical Scandinavian style of filmmaking is very structured: scripts are meticulously crafted and actors are all professionally trained. In Pusher 2, however, Refn goes against the grain, and with the exception of Mads Mikkelsen, casts mainly non-actors to achieve a realistic portrayal of a troubled segment of working class life.
I would say the intended effect is successful, as I would have never guessed that many of the main characters were played by ordinary people. They are all well developed, and in many ways, you'll care about them. There's a complexity and vulnerability in the dim-witted Tonny that I admit is quite intriguing.
Mads Mikkelsen's character is not nearly as foul and obscene as he was in the first film, but that's not saying much. Pusher 2 is every bit as disturbing, violent, and profane as its predecessor.
The most depressing thing for me is that this is part of a trilogy, so I still have Pusher 3 to get through.
Who would like this movie: Although this drug movie is very well made and Refn does a great job making the story realistic, this film is definitely not for everyone. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this movie's depressing and hard to watch in places.
You'd like this film if you are very familiar with the underground lifestyle, or if you'll likely to get something out of it if you're a big fan of shows like The Sopranos.
Refn examines this side of life with respect and a sincere effort at being authentic, and not as an educated person from the outside looking in with well-meaning but condescending sympathy.