Review: 'Stockholm' thinks it's crazier than it is

Ethan Hawke is a bank robber in heist comedy gone awry

Adam Graham
The Detroit News
Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace in "Stockholm."

For a movie that claims up front to be based "on an absurd but true story," "Stockholm" sure could use some absurdity coursing through its veins. 

Or some life. This dull story of a 1973 bank heist in Sweden's capital — the incident that inspired the term "Stockholm syndrome," no less — plays out as a conventional heist comedy about an idiot criminal in over his head.  

That idiot is Lars Nystrom, played by an uncharacteristically over-the-top Ethan Hawke as a cocky American who pumps himself up by telling himself, "I'm the outlaw."

He's not much of an outlaw, he's actually a pretty friendly guy, but the movie doesn't tell us enough about him for the audience to sympathize, or to convince us his captors would grow to be enamored with him.

Nonetheless, Nystrom is in full cowboy mode when he busts into Stockholm's Kreditbanken in an all-leather get-up and a cowboy hat, ready to collect $1 million in U.S. cash and set off on his merry way. 

What winds up unfolding is a lengthy hostage situation, where bank teller Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace) develops a fondness for Nystrom. Mark Strong shows up as Gunnar Sorensson, Nystrom's pal who is released as part of the negotiation, who is equally as dimly lit as his buddy.

Writer-director Robert Budreau, who also directed Hawke in the heartbreaking Chet Baker biopic "Born to Be Blue," can't find a consistent tone for the story, nor can he zero in on what made this story worth telling. What do you call it when you want to find affection for something but the pieces just don't fit? That's the syndrome from which "Stockholm" suffers. 



Rated R: for language and brief violence

Running time: 92 minutes