Movie Review: The stakes are global and personal in a modern day “Attack on Finland”

So many things go awry or are just never quite right with the film adaptation of “Attack on Finland” that one scarcely knows where to begin. But begin one must, so here goes.

“Good villains make good thrillers,” Hitchcock said. The filmmakers cast a colorful one, Estonian actor Juhan Ulfsak, for this story of murderous high-stakes Russian interference in Finland’s democracy. But they left him offscreen for almost the entire film.

The surrogate bad gal-and-guy (Nika Savolainen, Sverrir Gudnason) who fulfill those duties for most of the movie are neither colorful nor menacing enough to pull it off.

The shootouts, fights and other action beats play like walk-through rehearsals before filming the real thing. Slow. Unconvincing.

The story — which includes kidnapping Finnish and international dignitaries on Finland’s Independence Day, struggles to incorporate sequences and plot points in Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Belarus — is literally all over the place.

Different security forces are named, a “dark side of the EU” team breaks into people’s houses and accidentally shoots a child. Perhaps they were distracted. There’s this bloodless low heat love affair between a Finn (Jasper Pääkkönen) and a married-with-kids Swede (Nanna Blondell).

The NATO thing makes this film, based on an Ilkka Remes novel, either instantly topical or instantly-dated. The kidnappers demanding payment in Bitcoin is kind of hilarious as I type this.

Long convoluted plot made simple — a hustling entrepreneur Vasa (Gudnason) is coerced into helping this mysterious team led by a lawyer (Savolainen) stage a terror attack whose aim is to free Vasa’s war-criminal, “My son is DEAD” father (Miodrag Stojanovic).

So, Daddy issues lead to a raid on a celebratory ball, where Finland’s president and some NATO (I think) higher-up are nabbed.

“Free Dad and gimme $100 million in Bitcoin!”

That assault is dully-staged and filmed by director Aku Louhimies, as is every counter-assault and border crossing that follows. This or that moment plays well enough. But this ungainly beast is hard to follow. It’s even harder to invest in any character in it.

The dialogue — in snatches of English, and Finnish and Russian with English subtitles — is unquotably dull.

Sure, all is forgiven and “Welcome to NATO,” Finland and Sweden. But honestly, check out how the Swedes and Norwegians are making thrillers these days and learn from “Attack on Finland’s” many stumbles and miscalculations.

Rating: unrated, violence

Cast: Jasper Pääkkönen, Nanna Blondell, Sverrir Gudnason, Nika Savolainen, Juhan Ulfsak and Miodrag Stojanovic

Credits: Directed by Aku Louhimies, scripted by Jari Olavi Rantala, based on a novel by Ilkka Remes. A Samuel Goldwyn release.

Running time: 1:59

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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