cinema · LFF21

Film review: Cop Secret

 It’s the norm for footballers to move onto careers in coaching or punditry when they hang up their boots, but for Icelandic national goalkeeper Hannes Þór Halldórsson, he’s chosen a very different path. After dabbling in filmmaking previously with work on commercials, music videos, and a spot of editing, he has now written and directed his debut feature. Cop Secret is an action comedy that centres around policeman Bússi (Auðunn Blöndal) who is forced to team up with new partner Hörður (Egill Einarsson) when his colleague Klemenz (Sverrir Þór Sverrisson) is injured in the line of duty. A series of heists orchestrated by mastermind Rikki Ferrari (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) attract the attention of the authorities, but as well as fighting crime, Bússi also faces an internal struggle with his sexuality.

 Based on a fake movie trailer that was developed by Halldórsson and his co-writers over a decade ago, a team of six collaborate on the screenplay for this fleshed out version. The stereotype-heavy narrative is quite messy in the beginning until a neat satirical tone is fully established, and it actually improves as the ludicrous plot gets even sillier. 

 Playing up to the buddy cop genre tropes, the script is crammed full of throwaway gags and visual nods to other films but where it suffers in lack of originality, it makes up for in self-awareness and surprisingly strong production values. Cinematographer Elli Cassata has worked on the likes of Game of Thrones, Succession, and Batman Begins, and his experience is evident in the slick style which takes on swooping drone shots, smart special effects, and some really nifty action choreography. The heightened score is used for comic effect to the point of parody, which is a distraction at first, but eventually ties in quite well with the exaggerated set-pieces.

 Problems with the film lie within the performances and despite the fact that they all appear to be having a lot of fun with their roles, the acting feels ill-fitting against the deeper themes at play. Blöndal and Einarsson never really convince as the unlikely lovers at the heart of the story; their portrayals have an amateurish sketch-show-esque quality that runs out of steam quite quickly in a feature-length project. The stand-out is Haraldsson who goes all out with the villainous Rikki Ferrari. Taking influence from Rickman’s turn in Die Hard, he really leans into the absurdity, and it’s an amusing choice to have him as the only English language speaker, subverting the cliché of the baddies we see in blockbusters from the western world.

 Bold and unapologetic in its ridiculousness, Cop Secret is an entertaining sign of what might be still to come from first-timer Hannes Þór Halldórsson. As a goalkeeper, he made headlines by saving a penalty from Lionel Messi at the World Cup in 2018 and with a flair for capturing action, he’s proving to be a safe pair of hands as a film director too.

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