Helvette, if it isn’t our first Danish revenge movie. Although hard-hitting dramas are their main export, we shouldn’t forget about the Pusher trilogy. This time we will be delving into the modern world of crime in Denmark. Darkland uses the classic revenge movie structure and characters and infuses them with a couple of gritty and brutal scenes to raise the stakes. We will be following Zaid, an immigrant who, through his hard work and dedication, is now a successful doctor. Then, a personal tragedy will plunge him into a dark world of crime, murder, and revenge.
I stumbled upon this movie after seeing that the second part, Darkland 2 is out right now. So, I decided to check out the original to see if there’s something there. The opening thirty minutes were quite promising and the story seemed interesting and realistic. However, the more time went on, the more the movie started going for those stereotypical genre tropes. It lost touch with reality, with character motivations, and finally, with me, the viewer. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Darkland is a movie worth watching.
It features excellent production values, a stellar performance by Dar Salim (The Covenant, Black Crab, Kapringen), and good action scenes. Also, every once in a while, it’s going to punch you in the gut with brutal realism, reminding you we’re in Europe and not Hollywood. I think they lost me when our homeboy started training in boxing and trying to look like Punisher as much as he could. While boxing might be useful in bar fights it certainly holds no value when someone pulls a gun on you. And yet there’s something so cathartic and satisfying about this revenge story that I simply had to finish it.
Zaid just finished another successful open heart surgery and he’s eager to join his pregnant wife and his friends at a party. Just as he sits down, he receives a call and then a knock on a door from his brother. You see, his brother just tried to rob a bank and now is on a run. Zaid cut ties with him long ago and rebuffed his advances again. Just a few days later, his brother is going to end up dead. Just another criminal dead at the hands of another criminal. This also means that the police are not going to do much about this case. So, Zaid takes the matter into his own hands.
You can get a man out of his hood but you can’t get the hood out of him goes the old saying. Zaid tried so hard to evade both his parent’s ideologies and the immigrant criminal community that he eventually broke and went all in. Apparently, there are two paths once you immigrate to Europe, you either become a successful member of the society or a criminal. The discussions Zaid has with his father are quite poignant, revealing more about both of them. Like all revenge movies, Darkland digs at this notion of right and wrong, of what is to be a man.
To be a man on a mission, with purpose, driven by a single desire. And on top of it all, we have the utter rejection of the perfect life our vigilante has built so far. I think that plots like this speak to a large part of the male population just looking for an excuse to leave their wife and kids and do something else. Moving on, Darkland also offers a nice change of pace from all the other classic Hollywood movies. Italian Xtremo is a bit similar but more cheerful and upbeat. Although nothing can match the cynical and bizarre beauty of Kraftidioten.
Director: Fenar Ahmad
Writers: Fenar Ahmad, Adam August
Cast: Dar Salim, Stine Fischer Christensen, Ali Sivandi, Dulfi Al-Jabouri, Jacob Lohmann, Christopher Læssø
Fun Facts: To prepare for his role of tough vigilante Zaid, Dar Salim trained kickboxing and also shadowed heart surgeons, even watching some of the surgeries.