In Order of Disappearance is a winding, violent thriller that revels in its Norwegian landscape and indulges in the vengeful mentality of its characters.
The story follows Nils Dickman (Skarsgard), a snow remover whose son is killed after becoming embroiled in a drug ring. The plot thickens throughout the course of the film as Nils avenges the death of his son and he sets off a gang war leading to what feels like an absurd amount of people dying in the process. The film oscillates between the stark Norwegian landscape and the brutality of the crimes depicted, which adds to the story’s inherent sense of tension. Warring gangs lead by The Count (Pål Sverre Hagen) and Papa (Bruno Ganz) add to the body count while Nils considers using The Count’s son to avenge the death of his own.
Stellan Skarsgård is a standout, proving to be apt at all kinds of acts of revenge. His character is the most captivating but the secondary characters are just zany enough to give chase to the plot, even when it tends to be a little convoluted. The unrelenting winter paired with the coldness of each character make In Order of Disappearance both tense and haunting, though it’s a bit overkill, pun intended. Ultimately, the film is never boring and definitely worth viewing for fans of Taken and/or Snatch.
The film uses title cards to name each person who dies, and as they come up one after the other it becomes apparent that the amount of casualties is excessive and unrelenting. Sure, this goes with the territory, but it’s a bit suspect that so many people die without the involvement of any authorities or seemingly anyone taking notice. The first few are just low-level thugs so it’s understandable why no one pays any attention but as the bodies pile up it seems a bit strange that there are very little repercussions beyond each gang and Nils. There are two cop characters, but they barely have any screen time and seem to be vaguely investigating the string of murders. This feels like a bit of a misstep in relation to the cohesiveness of the plot.
Scandinavian humour is very distinct and especially dark and In Order of Disappearance is quintessentially Norwegian. Much of the action is unrelenting but occasionally the film focuses on bizarre details like a malfunctioning body slab at the morgue, adding some humour while also making the world of the film richer. It also helps make the sheer number of fatalities depicted on screen seem a little less dire.
Skarsgard is interesting to watch on screen though his place in the plot drops off a bit during the second act. He’s excellent at evoking a sense of compassion and understanding without the use of dialogue, and there’s a great moment between him and another character in the snowblower that highlights his capabilities. The film is cold both literally and through the lens of each character. The only deaths that seem to matter are those that are a loss of pride rather than the loss of life, and the son for son rhetoric while entertaining, can seem a bit two-dimensional at times. Still, the tension teased out through the course of the film and the Hollywood-esq bravado of the characters make In Order of Disappearance worth seeing.