SYNOPSIS: Based on the absurd but true 1973 bank heist and hostage crisis in Stockholm that was documented in the New Yorker as the origins of the 'Stockholm Syndrome'.
Coined by Swedish criminologist Nils Bejerot, The Stockholm Syndrome refers to a condition which causes hostages to develop an alliance and bond with their captors during captivity. And in this silly crime caper written and directed by Robert Budreau (Born to be Blue), it’s a movie that is loosely based on the events of the botched bank robbery which trigger the now infamous term.
Unfortunately, Budreau’s movie never does any justice to the actual event in fact it’s only worth your time because of Ethan Hawke’s perfect wackiness.
Hawke stars as Lars, a seemingly armed cool cat who walks into a bank not to rob the bank but instead demand the authorities to release a prisoner, Gunnar (Mark Strong). In the meantime, he takes bank employees, Bianca (Noomi Rapace) and Klara (Bea Santos) as hostages while the police and Prime Minister tries to manipulate their ways out of Lars’ demands. As time passes, the married Bianca finds herself falling in love with Lars, the charming mysterious stranger.
Stockholm fares liked an indie comedy at times mostly due to Hawke putting on his best charisma to turn a supposedly bad character into someone to root for and waxing lyrical about anything under the sun. Bianca truly is mesmerised and so are we. For a movie about bank robbery, there’s not much of a tension despite the use of gas by the police and a stunt improvised by Lars that nearly went wrong. Even the police look like a group of fumbling amateurs.
Perhaps Robert Budreau has no ambition to pull off a true story from the start. The entire episode feels like a non-event after everything is over. The Stockholm Syndrome is a true story that needs to be told to the younger generation. However, Stockholm simply fails to project any significant messages or making an absurd story comes alive. The hard work goes to Hawke, Rapace, Strong and Christopher Heyerdahl as the Chief of Police. Other than that, it’s too unmemorable to keep us as hostages.
Review by Linus Tee