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Max Manus Man of War


Stars: Aksel Hennie, Kyrre Haugen Sydness, Mads EldOen, Christian Rubeck, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Agnes Kittelsen, Ken Duken, Victoria Winge, Knut Joner

Director: Espen Sandberg and Joachim Roenning

Norway sadly gave the world the word ‘quisling’ - a traitor who aids an occupying enemy force’, named after Vidkun Quisling who collaborated with the Occupying Germans in WW2. Directors Sandberg and Roenning effectively and entertainingly commemorate the Norwegians’ resistance to the Nazis with this rousing adventure celebrating the real-life exploits of resistance fighter and former soldier on the Finnish border Max Manus – strongly played by Hennie – and his ‘gang’ who carried out spectacular acts of sabotage and rightly became a legend in his own country.

Screenwriter Karl Juliusson constructs a narrative that is every bit as exciting and suspenseful as any fictional war movie, even to the extent of including some splendidly stiff-upper-lipped British soldiers (where were Jack Hawkins and Kenneth More when we needed them?) in sequences set in Scotland where Manus and his fellow resistance fighters underwent additional training before returning to Norway for more much-needed attacks on the Germans.

Spectacular action is effective, balanced by convincing characterisation and excellent playing, and the filmmakers’ bring a highly effective human dimension to the suspenseful proceedings by having Manus lock horns with suave but sinister Gestapo chief Duken in telling scenes that cleverly avoid genre cliché. Like The Black Book and the more recent Flame and Citron, Max Manus Man of War is a thrilling and insightful addition to the genre.

Alan Frank

Norway/Germany/Denmark 2008. UK Distributor: Revolver Entertainment. Colour.
118 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 14 Jun 2009