Film Review: ‘Brave Men’s Blood’

Brave Mens Blood Movie Review

A cop in Internal Affairs discovers the head of the narc unit is on the take in Olaf de Fleur’s “Brave Men’s Blood,” a by-the-book cop drama with a script that resembles any number of TV police shows. Reprising three of the major roles from Fleur’s locally popular “City State,” this sequel doesn’t demand prior knowledge (though it will increase a sense of character), since “Brave” stands alone on its wobbly feet. Solid if standard visuals and a relatively involving storyline may translate into OK biz in Nordic territories; home play following an October opening was decent.

Gunnar Gunnerson (Ingvar E. Sigurdsson) was Iceland’s biggest drug dealer until his territory was taken over by Serbian immigrant Sergej (Zlatko Krickic). Now in the slammer, Gunnar wants revenge, so turns to rookie cop Hannes (Darri Ingolfsson), new to Internal Affairs, telling him that drug division chief Margeir (Sigurdur Sigurjonsson) is on Sergej’s payroll.

Hannes is fresh to the force, a neophyte who’s unable to handle the sadistic training for Special Ops; he’s fallen into IA but takes to the job with gusto, saying he doesn’t mind being hated. Maybe that’s because his father, Arni (Theodor Juliusson), a hardass police-force vet, has little emotional warmth, making Hannes especially keen to prove his worth while claiming not to care what colleagues think of him.

Given how green Hannes is, it doesn’t really make sense that he’s so cool-headed (nor is his failure in Special Ops believable). He recruits Andrea (Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir), languishing on desk duty ever since a nervous breakdown following a brutal assault (in “City State”), planting her in Margeir’s office to dig up the dirt. However, Margeir realizes he’s being watched after finding a tracking device under his car, so a cat-and-mouse game develops in which everyone, including Hannes’ wife, Ragna (Thora Bjorg Helga), and their toddler, is in danger.

Why Hannes’ family would be a target over Hannes himself makes little sense — this is hardly “The Big Heat”; nor is it “Infernal Affairs.” Notwithstanding Ingolfsson’s Ryan Gosling looks and intensity, the actor can’t make much of a character who’s seemingly drawn to fit the plot, rather than conceived as a fully fleshed-out personality. Margeir’s excessive mousiness weakens the storyline (would this guy really be in charge of the narc unit?), while Andrea, the most interesting character in the group partly thanks to her backstory (and Erlendsdottir’s charisma), is shortchanged by the plot.

Side characters, like Marcus (JJ Feild, “Tulse Luper”) an arrogant British drug-smuggling middleman, are tossed in for flavor much as they would be in a crime series, meaning they assert abrasive personalities yet are superfluous to the narrative. Like such series, “Brave Men’s Blood” is reasonable entertainment, but as a theatrical release hoping for international play, it doesn’t quite deliver.

Visually, the rapidly edited pic sticks to the steely tonalities expected from Nordic thrillers, making Reykjavik look like a dangerous locale whose criminal underbelly threatens to crush all those in its path. A flashback to Belgrade in 1995, meant to clarify Sergej’s motivations, is clumsily inserted.

Film Review: 'Brave Men's Blood'

Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Spectrum), Jan. 25, 2015. (Also in Berlin Film Festival — market.) Running time: 96 MIN. (Original title: “Borgriki 2”)


(Iceland) A Mongrel Intl. production, in partnership with Celluloid Dreams presentation of a Poppoli Pictures, in association with the Icelandic Film Center, the Icelandic Ministry of Industry and Innovation, Mongrel Intl., Celluloid Dreams, Myndform. (International sales: Mongrel Intl., Toronto.) Produced by Kristin Andrea Thordardottir, Ragnar Santos, Olaf de Fleur. Executive producers, Hengameh Panahi, Ingvar E. Sigurdsson.


Directed, edited by Olaf de Fleur. Screenplay, Hrafnkell Stefansson, de Fleur. Camera (color, widescreen), Bjarni Felix Bjarnason, Gunnar Heidar; music, Kristjan Sturla Bjarnason; production designer, Heimir Sverrisson; costume designer, Brynhildur Thordardottir; sound, Gunnar Arnason; assistant director, Gudni Pall Saemundsson.


Darri Ingolfsson, Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir, Ingvar E. Sigurdsson, Zlatko Krickic, Sigurdur Sigurjonsson, Hilmar Snaer Gudnason, JJ Feild, Theodor Juliusson, Jon Vidar Arnthorsson, Julia Sandberg Hansson, Thora Bjorg Helga. (Icelandic, Serbian, English dialogue)