The Unthinkable Movie Review
Is it possible to enjoy a movie when you hate both of the main characters? The terrorism/disaster thriller The Unthinkable unintentionally and unfortunately answers that question with a definitive “no.”
The Swedish action film follows a grown son and his estranged father as they come to grips with unprecedented terrorist acts against Sweden, origins unknown. As communication and defense systems continue to fall, the two find themselves inextricably linked as the crisis deepens.
What that crisis is I’m still a little unclear, however, as film collective Crazy Pictures seems to have mashed a few too many ideas into a single film. The plot has something to do with Russia, and memory-sapping rain, and the electrical grid, and guitars.
The Unthinkable almost comes together. At its best, it’s a gripping thriller with well-staged if lower budgeted action/disaster sequences. The movie isn’t built to be a high-octane blockbuster, but rather a film where awful things happen from afar, viewed through the experiences of those on the periphery of the main plot. For a while, this works in the movie’s favor, but as the action circles and then encloses around its main characters, the weight of the mysterious plot begins to collapse in upon itself.
But the problem is more with the characters themselves. The lead protagonist, played by Christoffer Nordenrot, is an empty vessel, an uninspiring, unremarkable individual who has no real bearing on anything that happens in the movie. His father, played by Jesper Barkselius, is an abusive, mentally ill conspiracy theorist with anger issues. Together, they make for an unlikely and unlikable pair (who, for better or worse, rarely share the screen together) to defend Sweden from foreign invaders. It’s incredibly hard to appreciate action and violence when you want the two main characters to die as a result.
Compounding the issue is that Crazy Pictures, in the midst of this disaster/action film, wants to tell both a familial story and a political one, neither of which are particularly compelling. The recurring references to the trauma inflicted on son by his father, and the story’s flaccid attempt to reconcile their differences, falls entirely flat. The political undertones carry a bit more heft, though they don’t entirely translate across the pond.
The Unthinkable has a lot of qualities, but mashed together they form a convoluted mess. Entertaining at times but draining at others, it lacks the coherent vision to deliver on its underlying premise. More importantly, its characters elicit apathy if not outright hate.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.