Monday, March 6, 2017

Film Review: Pusher (1996)

Pusher (Review)
Denmark/1996
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...offers a grim view of the criminal underworld without compromise."

Frank (Kim Bodnia), a low-level drug dealer, finds himself in debt to a ruthless drug lord after a botched deal.

Pusher is a great crime drama—but it may not be for everyone. The film follows Frank, a low-level drug dealer from Copenhagen. Frank meets a former cellmate and the pair set up a large drug deal. In order to get the drugs for the deal, Frank goes to Milo (Zlatko Burić), a ruthless drug lord. All is well until their deal is busted by the cops and Frank is forced to dump the drugs in the lake. This leads Frank into a frantic chase for money in order to pay off his debt—or else. There are some very dark moments scattered throughout as well as some twists and turns. It leads to a very strong ending. It's not over-the-top or anything like that. It just sort of leaves you in awe.


Pusher is an uncompromising film. It's not the most violent movie ever made, but it doesn't sugarcoat anything. It sets out to create a grim world with despicable characters—and it does that well. It really pulls you into this criminal underworld that expands across many different people, including users, dealers, their lovers, and kingpins. There's even a bit of dark humor in this. It got me to chuckle a few times. The only issue with the plot is the pacing. At times, this is a very slow movie. There are moments where the film is dragging its feet for no particular reason. The pace ultimately stops the film from hitting perfection.

Kim Bodnia is great as the leading man—very natural. Zlatko Burić performs very well as the drug lord. He is simultaneously charismatic and evil. Mads Mikkelsen is stellar in this film. The film was shot well and the music was good. The film was written and directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. Refn is a great writer and director. I think he has an excellent visual presentation, as usual. However, as with most of his films, Refn often allows his scenes to linger for a bit too long. I'm not saying it has to be a fast-paced thriller, but some fine-tuning would allow for a more effective film.

Overall, Pusher is a great crime film. It offers a grim view of the criminal underworld without compromise. There are some pacing issues, but it is otherwise very effective and entertaining. The film especially shines when it comes to its performances. If you like crime movies, don't miss this one.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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