R: Hit First, Hit Harder

"Very Good"

R: Hit First, Hit Harder Review


Although gritty and authentic, this Danish prison drama doesn't really have a new story to tell. Except perhaps that prisons in Denmark are just as grim and violent as those in any other country. Well, at least those that make prison dramas.

Young inmate Rune (Asbaek) is moved from a quiet ward to maximum security, now mixing with the big boys. On his first day, he has a run-in with the Mason (Moller), who threatens to rough him up unless he viciously beats up someone else. So he joins Mason's gang. Then he figures out an ingenious way to help Mason's cohort Carsten (Gredsted) move drugs around the prison, working with his yard pal Rashid (Al-Jabouri). This gives him some security until the next shoe drops.

In the final act, the film (and the title R) jarringly shifts to focus on Rashid and his struggle between survival, loyalty and his strong religious beliefs, which make him want to do the right thing, even if it means putting himself in danger. This strongly echoes in Rune's separate journey, as both of these young men are just trying to get through their few years in prison alive.

Asbaek and Al-Jabouri are terrific, developing a strong sense of camaraderie that adds a tiny glimmer of kindness in what's otherwise a relentlessly unpleasant movie. All of the actors are thoroughly believable as hardened inmates with their own secret society, willing to kill their closest confidant if needed. Meanwhile the guards (Winther and Beutnagel) are a little more complex, in that they sometimes seem to actually care about these guys, even as they turn a blind eye or humiliate them to make a point.

In other words, there isn't much we haven't seen on film or TV before. It's shot like a documentary, with glaring grey skies and creepy corners, which makes several moments even more horrific. And the tension between characters is uncomfortably harsh. In fact, only one scene captures the inmates' humanity: when they get their budgies to stage a football match. Watching the tiny birds escape from their cage and be recaptured by these smiling, happy thugs is the most telling moment in the film.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Tobias Lindholm, Michael Noer

Producer: Rene Ezra, Tomas Radoor

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.