On the Edge Review

The car chases are well handled but formulaic in this lame Danish racing-movie retread.

Souped-up drag-racing drama “On the Edge” is a minor retread of standard U.S. fare, tricked out with a moralistic buddy scenario in the hopes of attracting a larger fanbase than adolescents and adult males developmentally stuck in high school. Marking helmer Christian E. Christiansen’s temporary return to Denmark, sandwiched between American entries “The Roommate” and the forthcoming “Where the Devil Hides,” the pic displays a questionable appreciation for trashy testosterone-based recreation in the form of well-handled but formulaic, screechy car chases. International sales are riding high, though audiences for this sort of actioner aren’t exactly the subtitle-reading type.

Remake potential for the project is high, though the seat-of-your-pants energy of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise is in short supply here. Best friends Nikolaj (Cyron Melville) and Martin (Jakob Oftebro) spend their off hours whooping it up at illegal racing contests, staged with the expected amount of alcohol, burnt rubber, pounding music and T&A. Coming back late at night with friends after a match, they race each other home, but Martin’s car kills a girl before going out of control and flipping over.

The pals agree to tell the cops the same story, denying reckless behavior, but Martin is convicted of manslaughter, his sentence to be served in the coming months. During the trial Nikolaj becomes tight with Signe (Danica Curcic), a good college girl who’s also Martin’s object of affection. Nikolaj tries to resist but Signe’s charms are too great, and they start a relationship. That doesn’t sit well with Martin, already depressed and doping himself up to forget the memory of the woman he killed. He’s also in debt to a loan shark, so Nikolai, ever the loyal bro, joins in a wild scheme to rob the public pool complex where Signe works.

The moral, that these guys are really nice kids who have just made a few stupid mistakes, feels like a forced bid to add dramatic layers to a plot essentially in thrall to adrenaline-pumping tarmac shredders. Their stupidity may be overwhelming, but the bromantic bonds are somehow meant to make it all OK. The film’s European media traction has been heightened somewhat by the presence of two 2014 Berlin-anointed Shooting Stars in the cast, Curcic and Oftebro (his striking good looks never quite grungy enough, thanks to the schmata on his head), yet this is hardly the film to show off their talents.

The car chases have the usual number of skids and spins, briskly edited and set to pumping music: up to expected standards, but nothing especially memorable in a well-trodden field. Visuals on the print viewed seemed to need boosts to the color contrasts, as tonalities were occasionally either too dark or too monochrome.  Local opening is in April.

Film Review: 'On the Edge'

Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Spectrum), Jan. 26, 2014. (Also in Gothenburg Film Festival — market; Berlin Film Festival — market.) Running time: 86 MIN. (Original title: “Lev staerkt”)

Production

(Denmark-Sweden) A Zentropa Intl. presentation of a Zentropa, M2Film, Film i Vast prod. (International sales: TrustNordisk, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Louise Vesth, Senia Dremstrup, Jakob Balslev. Executive producer, Peter Aalbaek Jensen. Co-producers, Mads Munk, Kenneth Plummer, Madeleine Ekman.

Crew

Directed by Christian E. Christiansen. Screenplay, Morten Dragsted, Christiansen. Camera (color, HD), Ian Hansen; editors, Michael Bauer, Frederik Strunk; music, Mikkel Maltha; production designer, Susanne Buhl; costume designer, Kirsten Zaschke; sound (Dolby Digital), Eddie Simonsen, Allan Holmberg; visual effects supervisor, Thomas Stender.

With

Cyron Melville, Jakob Oftebro, Danica Curcic, Joakim Ingversen, Kasper Fomsgaard. (Danish dialogue)

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