When you’re known for your role as Lisbeth Salander, the original ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, it can be difficult to shake that iconic character. Noomi Rapace has been trying to outrun that dragon tattoo for over a decade now with substantial roles in Hollywood films such as Prometheus, The Drop and Stockholm. Playing opposite the likes of Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy and Ethan Hawke… it seems as though, much like a tattoo (or playing Bond for too long) it’s here to stay. If she’s honest, the relationship with Stieg Larsson’s popularised hacker isn’t all that much of a burden, serving as an immortal calling card based on her career-defining performance. While she’s struggled to truly break into Hollywood, trying to ride on Sigourney Weaver’s Alien coattails, Rapace has a calm-like-a-bomb temperament that’s in demand.
Her latest performance in The Trip finds her getting dark and gritty all over again with a faint echo of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Set in Norway, she’s the headline star opposite co-lead Aksel Hennie who’s best known for Jo Nesbo film Headhunters. Their most recognised roles give you an inside angle to a mysterious film that channels some Mr and Mrs Smith whimsy, Funny Games fury with a Tarantino panache for stylish violence. Comedian and actor, Atle Antonsen, rounds off the trio of considerable talents with a memorable performance, making an effective contribution as the bloody spanner in the works.
The Trip was formerly known as In Bad Times, which is a more accurate explanation of what you’re getting yourself into… a play on the “in good times, in bad times” marriage vows. Taken from the perspective of an unhappily married couple, the dark comedy horror thriller journeys with the dysfunctional duo who take a weekend break at a remote cabin with the intention of killing each other. Toying with annoying habits that typically provoke spasms of irritation, The Trip starts off quite gently, capitalising on jibes and the marriage’s death spiral. Purposefully getting in each other’s faces, the thriller primes the audience with what’s to come, yet nothing can quite prepare you for each new development as oddball characters get thrown into the cement mixer.
“How about we agree to disagree… for old times’ sake?”
The fractious and competitive Mr and Mrs Smith energy is constantly on the boil as a director and his leading lady crystalise their hatred for each other. Just as we’re coming to terms with how long the Misery style cat-and-mouse game can be sustained between Rapace and Hennie, the story gets railroaded. This becomes The Trip’s wild card, repeatedly trashing expectations as violence erupts and gets circumvented by another twist. While touted as a dark comedy, it’s got a pitch black sense of humour, threatening to unleash fresh hell on its characters to the point of shedding any trace of comedy. Constantly baiting the audience helps generate suspense, allowing the thriller to take on a Tarantinoesque edge as the ensemble burgeons, flashbacks rewind the non-linear timeline and ultraviolence pushes the limits.
Filled with characters who act as catalysts and vengeful acts, Tommy Wirkola has unleashed an intense and grisly dark comedy horror thriller that’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. The playful tone helps soften the impact but it’s quite relentless as do-or-die survival instincts kick in and blood gushes out. While over-the-top thrills build suspense, carried forth by determined performances and wild cat-and-mouse games… there are a few crass comedic elements that disrupt the carefully built admiration they’ve achieved. If you can handle the violence, you’ll find it hard not to be entertained by this full tilt Norwegian film.
It’s a truly visceral experience designed to have you guffaw at the deliciously dark comedy, recoil in disgust at gruesome action only to feel queasy at some of its raw violence. Ambitiously trying to sustain its quick pace, numbingly brutal disposition and wickedly dark sense of humour, The Trip doesn’t hold anything back, threatening to derail its audiences at several intervals. It’s a rollercoaster without seatbelts, borrowing tidbits from Hollywood but fearlessly flaunting its untethered indie spirit. It’s most definitely not for everyone but for those who can handle Tarantino and Ritchie, it’s a refreshing if bloody jaunt, which is forth watching with subtitles.
The bottom line: Gut-busting