The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - WILD MEN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - WILD MEN

wild men review
A man suffering a mid-life crisis and a drug smuggler go on the run in the wilds of Norway.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Thomas Daneskov

Starring: Rasmus Bjerg, Zaki Youssef, Bjorn Sundquist, Sofie Grabol

wild men poster

Director Thomas Daneskov's second feature Wild Men is a cousin of Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Jalmari Helander's Big Game. Both those movies see a member of an ethnic minority team up with a white woodsman as they are chased by various antagonists through a sprawling forest, with each of the participants learning a lesson or two about life from the other. Daneskov gives us a similar setup, pairing a pelt-covered Dane with an Arab immigrant, but the dynamic is quite different, as the former is no woodsman, simply a middle class man suffering a mid-life crisis.

wild men review

We meet Martin (Rasmus Bjerg) 10 days into his new life in the wilds of Norway. At first he strikes an imposing figure, and you can see why various characters will come to describe him as resembling a Viking. But Martin is struggling to master this lifestyle and out of frustration he finds himself drawing the attention of the local police after stealing a horde of food and beer from a nearby petrol station.

Also pursued by the cops is Musa (Zaki Youssef), a cannabis smuggler who retreats into the woods with a bag full of cash after surviving a car crash he mistakenly believes has killed his dangerous companions Simon (Marco Ilso) and Eigil (Tommy Karlsen). When Martin stumbles across Musa he messily stitches up the nasty gash in his leg and the two make their way towards the promise of a village where people live off the land in the manner Martin has been attempting, all while pursued by cops, gangsters and Martin's irate wife.

wild men review

As Martin and Musa, Bjerg and Youssef make for an affable pair. They form an instant bond, as while they may be from very different backgrounds, they're both seeking a simpler life away from the stress of modern urban living. Daneskov thankfully steers clear of any cringy race-based comedy of the manner of Intouchables. Rather than trading their cultures, both Martin and Musa dismiss the other's way of life as something they're uninterested in.

The trouble with Martin and Musa getting along so well from the start is that it makes much of the movie dramatically inert. There's almost none of the bickering that usually fuels this sort of buddy comedy and so the conflict comes from those pursuing the pair. There's no real tension generated from this as both the police and the gangsters are portrayed as largely inept, so we rarely feel like our heroes are in any real danger. When things do take a dark turn in the climax, it's a jarring left turn, dropping the comedy for something closer to the final act of Peter Weir's Witness.

wild men review

What keeps Wild Men afloat are the various comic vignettes involving our heroes and their pursuers. Most of the laughs come courtesy of Bjorn Sundquist as the local aging Sheriff, who pours disdain on the various lifestyles he encounters and fails to comprehend (arriving at the "back to the land" commune he immediately asks if the whole setup is for the purpose of sex). Martin has his moments too, mostly through his frustration at his inability to escape the modern world he thought he left behind in Denmark. At the aforementioned commune, where grown men cosplay as Vikings, he is disgusted when his offer to trade fur for food is greeted with a credit card reader. There just aren't enough such moments for Wild Men to be the sharp satire it initially promises.

Wild Men
 is in UK/ROI cinemas and on VOD from May 6th.

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