Banish all thoughts of Nordic Noir – Cop Secret is an action-comedy buddy cop movie which embraces the tropes of Hollywood’s recognisable style and transports it to Iceland, without spoofing the genre.
If someone suggests watching an Icelandic police film, then chances are thoughts turn to a slow pace, snow, grumpy investigators, and a psychopathic serial killer.
Well, I’m here to tell you that Cop Secret is none of that (well, perhaps there are some grumpy investigators) – it is a riotous, very funny action-comedy of the buddy cop variety with a bit of a twist, and got my London Film Festival viewing off to an upbeat and very positive start!
Nordic mysteries set in Reykjavík commonly play Iceland’s capital city as small and quiet, with the population generally surprised at any hint of crime taking place at all. From the very start, Cop Secret upends this, opening with a drone shot across Reykjavík’s waterfront and circling over the road system below while the car radio informs of today’s weather and traffic. As the upbeat music and yellow-fonted opening credits subside, a motorcycle bursts through a doorway onto the road, and we’re immediately involved in a car chase, led by self-styled ‘toughest cop in Iceland’ Bussi (Auðunn Blöndal).
As a series of bank robberies continues to mystify the police, Bussi is teamed up with rival supercop Hörður (Egill Einarsson) and (departing from the Hollywood clichés the film has thus far embraced) Bussi finds himself falling in love with his new partner, and having to examine his own repressed sexuality – while taking down a gang of criminals in a crazy slow-mo shoot-out literally at the same time.
It’s important to note that the gay romance part of the story is not where the comedy lies (at one point an older character comments “It’s 2021, nobody gives a sh*t”). The film, jointly written by Blöndal, Einarsson, and director Hannes Þór Halldórsson, cleverly captures all the fun – and clichés – of Hollywood’s action movies without becoming a flat-out spoof, and it just about manages to keep the pace up all the way through. Björn Hlynur Haraldsson’s Joker-style villain Rikki fills in the sections where the buddy partnership needs some time out, and he keeps the laughs going by insisting on speaking English to his very confused Icelandic gang members.
Halldórsson really has done a great job with this, his first feature, which he has not only written and directed but edited too. There are action sequences, explosions, gunfights, fistfights, Mexican standoffs, and comedy, and it’s a delightful entertainment from beginning to end.