Winner of a shared first prize at the Gothenburg fest, “Knockout” is a road movie that runs out of steam once it puts the brakes on and decides to stay in one place. Box office prospects look shaky.
Anders (Orjan Landstrom) is a former boxing champ earning a buck by singing country songs at bars. He travels with Johnny (Reine Brynolfsson), also a has-been looking for a future. Anders runs into old boxing friend Vladimir (Igor Chernovich), who offers him a bodyguard job in Murmansk, Russia, and once there the sullen Swede discovers Vladimir is trading in stolen cars and prostitutes. Anders falls hard for his neighbor, beautiful hooker Maria (radiant Ludmila Varfolomeyeva), setting the scene for a violent showdown with Vladimir. Script by hot young author Peter Birro initially promises to be a dark, funny and moving story of two middle-aged losers (Anders and Johnny) but becomes less interesting as it concentrates on the mobsters. Brynolfsson’s Johnny is a character that rates a movie of his own, and the previously unknown Landstrom is good as Anders. Russos — some of them real-life mobsters — are adequate.