Many of us aspire to live what is known as "the high life." There are various reasons why these people want to be apart of the financial elite and there are multiple ways to get there if you can. Some of these people will do whatever it takes to attain such status and that includes breaking the law to get there. That's what the lead character in the film Easy Money is thinking about doing. The problem for him is that it might not be as easy as he thinks.
JW (Joel Kinnaman) is a college student from a lower class background who wants to live the "good life." He see the lives of many of his associates and is instantly enamored with them and their lifestyles. He works hard in order to one day attain the great level of success that he desires, but the opportunities aren't coming fast enough for him. His lack of funds becomes even harder for him to bare after he meets Sophie (Lisa Henni), the girl of his dreams who is living above what he can afford. So with the extra bit of inspiration, he decides to make things happen at a faster pace and ends up taking a dip into the criminal underworld to sustain his image and live up to what he believes Sophie might want in a man.
At the start of Easy Money, we meet JW while he's in school and mingling with his wealthier counterparts. Although he doesn't have much of what they have as far as family structure and finances, he does what he can to project the image of having come from a good family that also has a strong financial background. In his dorm room, he has posters and images of male models plastered over a good amount of the walls so he can study them and emulate their style of dress. He sees things he wants and women that he wants to be with, but doesn't feel that he can attain such prizes.
Because of this, he is driven to succeed and he eventually finds himself involved with a group of criminals. He knows that this may be his fastest way to the top of the financial mountain if he's careful and has the right connections. According to the arrangement h has with the group, he doesn't even have to get violent nor does he have to do much in terms of work that would put his life in danger. This obviously looks like a case of making some easy money and having it fall straight into his hands. All that's left for him to deal with is watching his back and living his life while the career criminals do all of the heavy lifting.
But JW is not alone in his quest for some quick cash. There's also Jorge (Mattias Padin Varela) and Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) who are just as desperate to reach the financial promise land that they dream of. Like JW, they have their own personal difficulties that they need to get in order and it's not going to be easy. One has to deal with responsibilities of raising his daughter on his own and the other has to look out for his family members that are in dire straits. All three of these characters have their stories intertwine as e continue to learn about who they are and what pushes them to break the law.
Throughout all of this, we're shown the pressures of JW's new occupation and the direct impact that it has on certain aspects of someone's personal life if they're living under these circumstances. It's clear to me that director Daniel Espinosa is doing whatever he can to humanize these characters and make them multidimensional. By giving each one a different flaw or hang up that hinders them, it's looks as if he doesn't want them to be your typical bad guys and he wants the audience to glance at their motives and desires just as much as their actions.
From a personal standpoint, I felt indifferent about Easy Money and just about everything in it. This is a decent movie for the most part, but nothing jumps out at you and there's nothing that makes it great or even memorable. It's a well structured film with good balance and a great deal of patience that wants to talks to its viewers about the choices people make and the consequences that they may have to face. The actual execution of the film forces you to understand that this is not about crime, but the people. It's also the best part of the movie.
As a fan of movies and as a movie critic, Easy Money divides me. If I'm looking at it from the eye of a film critic, I'll have to notice the quality of the storytelling and I think that's good here. As a fan of cinema, I would have wanted a little more violence and a little more energy as we get a closer look at the dangers that these men experience. If you're going to see this movie as a member of the general public, you have to know what you're getting and you may not like this as much as critics might. If you're looking for a hard and brutal movie, then you're going to have to look someplace else.
Easy Money is not about violence or even really organized crime. It's about those life altering choices some of us have to make and how things like greed, lust and apparent need can alter the lives of people. This is a sleek crime thriller that's light on crime and even lighter on violence when compared to other films from this genre. From my view, there's nothing wrong with it, but with the exception of the well structured story there's not much in it either.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Mattias Padin Varela
Annika Ryberg Whittembury
Film Length: 119 minutes
Release Date: July 11, 2012 (Limited)
Distributor: The Weinstein Company