Skarsgård plays Nils, who is awarded Citizen of the Year in his freezing cold mountain village, for his indispensable, loyal work on his snowplow. However his celebrations are cut short when he learns of the death of his son, who the authorities believe to have died in a drug overdose. Nils is adamant his son was murdered, and so sets off on a one-man vengeance mission to find his son’s killer, with all paths leading to the eccentric, volatile and notorious gang-leader Greven (Pål Sverre Hagen), also known as ‘The Count’. With the Serbian mafia also getting caught up in proceedings – led by the elderly Papa (Bruno Ganz), a complex and highly dangerous series of events transpire.
Though morbid and intense at times – with the death toll counted as we progress through the production – a typically Scandinavian, droll wit remains prevalent throughout, employed in the unlikeliest of places. Made up of several small quirks, sadly not all of which are quite so subtle, as Moland can be accused of entering in to rather juvenile territory on occasion. Struggling to hold down that ingenuity, some of the gags are so elementary in their approach, epitomised when Greven needlessly punches his wife in the face. As though the writer Kim Fupz Aakeson couldn’t think of a more intelligent way to conclude a scene.
Nonetheless, In Order of Disappearance balances the two genres expertly, wryly – and persistently parodying thrillers, breeding often hilarious results, similarly to how In Bruges managed. Such as when Skarsgård makes a point of saying, ‘why do all of you gangsters have such silly names?’ Talking of which, The Count is a brilliantly construed antagonist, as he’s so pathetic, yet immensely unpredictable. He has this air of eccentricity about him, which can often be so much more threatening than the usual ‘hard man’ approach. One of the film’s leading antagonists, so to speak, is the bitterly cold, isolated location, working as the perfect compliment to this narrative, and bringing about the suspense to counteract the farcical nature. Though in fairness, the sheer brutality of the murders depicted just about manages to achieve that too.
On the surface, In Order of Disappearance is a generic, archetypal revenge plot mission, but that doesn’t prevent it being a film to indulge in and enjoy. A man avenging his son’s death has the potential to make for compelling cinematic territory, and when you throw someone with the credentials of Skarsgård in to the mix, it helps infinitely. Here’s now hoping he works on a spin-off with Moland called the ‘Plow-Man’, or at the very least, introduce him into the next Avengers endeavour, because this is Skarsgård seriously being bad-ass, and we can’t get enough of it.