Storm (2005) (DVD)

Here are three words you rarely see together: Swedish action movie.

D.D. (Eric Ericson, Bad Dreams) is your basic slacker, who has had no sense of tactile feeling sense childhood. As such, he usually keeps himself closed off from others, avoiding relationships, etc. That is, until the mysterious redhead Lova (Eva Rose, Disco Kung Fu) enters his life. She’s being pursued by some strange goons employed by a sinister fellow known only as The Man in the Suit (Jonas Karlsson, Bang Bang Orangutang) for a small box she apparently stole. Lova and D.D. are soon running and fighting for their lives, with D.D. gradually learning he has a major role to play in what’s happening. In order to find out what’s in that box, D.D. must go back—way, way, back—into his past and into the deepest recesses of his psyche to recover that which he has lost.

All the marketing for Storm insists on comparing it to The Matrix. It’s true that both films use that bluish-green lighting scheme, and both films have a hero who starts believing that the world around him isn’t what it seems. But while The Matrix wowed everyone with wild special effects and outrageous kung fu, Storm instead explores the world within, with half of the movie taking place in the hero’s mind.

The film starts out with some rousing action, as Lova fights off the goons pursuing her, in a rough and gritty fight scene that’s more like something out of the Bourne movies, rather than the zero-G slow motion action the Matrix films are associated with. I especially liked how she pulled a bicycle chain off the bike and turned it into a makeshift whip. Very nice. Co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein keep the tension moving along nicely as D.D. gets increasingly paranoid throughout the night, as Lova and her odd pursuers force their way more and more into his life.

Then the movie takes a wild left turn and becomes a psychological drama, rather than an action/chase tale. Eerily, D.D. finds himself wandering through his own past, reliving not-so-pleasant memories, and rediscovering some that were buried. Here’s where the filmmakers take the time to really explore this character and what makes him tick. Be warned that this guy hasn’t had a nice life, and a lot of this section of the film contains some seriously disturbing imagery.

It’s an interesting choice to create a movie hero with no tactile perception—no sense of touch, basically. It provides a shortcut as to why D.D. acts the way he does, such as shutting himself off from others. The cruel acts he perpetrated in his youth are not necessarily done out of malevolence, but because they’re the only real way he can “feel” other people, so to speak. Because a kiss or an embrace provides him no sensation, D.D. instead finds other ways to connect with those close to him, often harming them without realizing it. That is, not realizing it until Lova storms into his life with that strange box.

Eric Ericson does a fine job running the gauntlet of emotion the script demands from him, and Eva Rose has the “tough girl” character down pat. But the real standout, acting-wise, has got to be Jonas Karlsson as the baddie. He’s one of those villains who can be charming and likable one minute, and bursting with venomous rage the next. This is a tough trick to pull off without overdoing it, and Karlsson clearly understands that. He transitions from one aspect of the character’s personality to another seamlessly, so that it never comes across as show-offish.

If you’re an action movie buff looking for non-stop punches and explosions, you might be disappointed by this one, seeing as how half the movie is actually a twisted character study. This is a case where the action scenes merely serve the story, but, unlike so many big blockbusters, they’re not the sole reason for the story.

The picture and audio on this DVD are quite good, with a lot of sharp colors and deep blacks, as well as an active 5.1 track in the original Swedish, and a laughably dubbed 2.0 track in English. The only extras are the theatrical trailer and a still gallery, which is unfortunate. It would have been great to hear from the directors about the origin of the film, and how this intriguing story developed.

If you’re looking for some sci-fi thrills that also provide some character-based drama, you could do a lot worse than Storm.

The Verdict

Inte skyldigt.

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