By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Chuck Wilson
Structurally ambitious but otherwise familiar, Easy Money: Hard to Kill frustrates as only untapped potential can.
Just paroled, JW has created trading software that he and his wealthy business partner, Nippe (Joel Spira), are about to sell to a bank — until Nippe steals the program, sending JW back to a life of crime.
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The multifaceted plot also concerns two other gangsters — Mahmoud (Fares Fares) and Jorge (Matias Varela) — and these three men, all earning sympathy, will fight over the same pieces of underworld pie.
Highly class conscious, Easy Money is at its best when observing an ironic relationship between criminal and upper classes — gangsters may engage in betrayal, but the rich make it an art.
Mahmoud and Jorge are not ethnic Swedes, and their financial struggles are highlighted against a homogenous country in which breeding factors highly in success.
Yet these sociological details are minimized in a story of heists gone wrong and right, and while Najafi gets leverage out of pitting his three protagonists against one another — whom to root for when they're all equally sympathetic? — he squanders an opportunity for a more observant character study.
Instead we're given a boatload of action sequences, each as familiar as the one prior. Not fully understanding its own merits, Easy Money is accidentally fascinating in some moments, but purposefully formulaic in many more.
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