At World’s End opens deep in the Sumatran jungle where a BBC documentary crew are filming a nature programme. The Attenborough inspired presenter is looking for a rare frog which has run off at the wrong time. Frustrated he sends the local tribes-people off in search of it. Instead of the frog they find something even a more interesting, a rare and undocumented flower. Bending down to take a closer look he and all his crew are blown away by a crazed looking man with an automatic rifle.
Arrested and imprisoned in Indonesia the man claims to be Danish citizen Severin Geertsen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and that he was born 129 years ago. He tells officials that the flower, which he calls Hedvig, has been keeping him alive all this time and that he killed the documentary crew in an effort to protect this special flower. The Danish government at this point intervenes and sends a psychologist named Adrian (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) to assess Severin and certify him insane, preventing his imminent execution. Accompanied by the slightly dim and seemingly racist Beate (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) who also won’t stop talking, Adrian gets caught up in a crazy adventure with Severin which features shoot-outs, helicopter flights, explosions and tons of other insane action.
At World’s End riffs on a lot of 80s action adventure films with Romancing the Stone and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom being obvious reference points. Beate even wears a dress that is reminiscent of Willie’s in Temple of Doom and her incessant talking and cluelessness could also have been inspired by Willie (Kate Capshaw) in Temple of Doom. Despite these reference points and quite a few moments of black humour, including one crude gag that actually had me in stitches, At World’s End is not a spoof. As an action adventure this competes with other films in the same genre and actually does pretty well considering. With Steven Berkoff as Jack Pudovski the film even has the requisite British bad guy and one of James Bond pedigree to boot.
Berkoff’s acting is perhaps a little too hammy but this kind of suits the approach of the film and he is surrounded by a cast of actors with real talent. Kaas is great in the lead role but Birgitte as Beate provides probably the best performance, playing what could have been a somewhat one note character with a lot of skill making her very like-able despite her character faults, something Capshaw never managed in Temple of Doom.
With some great action moments and the ineffectual Adrian wandering through them the film never really slows down at around ninety minutes At World’s End is a pretty exciting, funny and well paced adventure film. A few comedic and dramatic moments fall a little flat, including an unfortunately excruciating final moment, but the film is a lot of fun and I’m sure it’s destined to be a cult favourite when it hits DVD.