The film is part courtroom drama, and part jungle thriller; covering the events leading up, including and after the death of their driver, Abedi Kasongo. The story is narrated by and follows French, as portrayed by Aksel Hennie, a self-professed adventurer and “man of violence”. He has come to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to work as a mercenary with fellow ex-Norwegian soldier, Moland (Tobias Santelmann). The pair fail to complete their mission and in the midst of trying to meet a contact, there is a firefight and Kasongo is killed. The two Norwegians are soon arrested, jailed and spend many years in prison seeking a pardon, all the while fending off other inmates, and the ravages of their own slipping sanities.
The true story of what happened that fateful day on the road is kept unclear for much of the run-time. We know at first only what comes from French and Moland’s statements, but as events progress, different takes on the event begin to play out. This is all jumbled into a non-linear series of flashbacks and forwards, inter-cut with French arguing with Ine F. Jansen‘s political contact, as she tries to secure his release, and get to the bottom of Moland’s death in prison.
It’s an interesting, if never quite gripping film. Touching on the complexities of Congolese law, culture, and the concepts of Ubuntu, the schisms between European outlooks, and Norway’s own specific unwillingness to bend to other cultural mores. Hennie and Santelmann are both watchable, however the film never quite gets under the skin of the two men, despite solid performances. Instead the end result is a slightly unsatisfying whole, that leaves the audience unfulfilled by what is a topic that could have tackled in more depth.
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