Despite the ambitiously witty title, In Order of Disappearance is a Euro-trash procedural with precious little on its mind. But who knows, you might be compelled to waste two hours (two hours!?) with the tale of a snowplow driver in the north of Norway, played by Stellan Skarsgård, and his violent retribution against two — count ’em! — drug gangs.
If you show the audience a set of huge, fearsome snow-blower blades in the first reel, chances are good they’ll be put to use before the movie ends. For unassuming transportation worker Nils Dickman (Skarsgård) the chance comes with the overdose death of his son, found slumped on a bench near the railway station. The culpability trail leads to “The Count” (Pål Sverre Hagen), a severely nutty crime boss who lives in a modern mansion filled with hideous furniture and deals cocaine with the help of his crew of inept clods. The movie’s signature gimmick demands that as each goon expires, that person’s name pops up on a funereal title card. As it happens, the Count is also feuding with a mob of Albanians, so the death cards arrive at a steady rate. On and on it goes. Director Hans Petter Moland pushes all the buttons in the right order, but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it. The pop songs on the soundtrack are similarly forgettable.
Seasoned character actor Skarsgård tries his best to bring a fresh new wrinkle to the now-tiresome “angry old-guy avenger” mechanism popularized by Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. He sure looks businesslike in his snowmobile uniform jumpsuit. And yet it’s easier to find laughs when the Count is onscreen, yelling at his estranged wife, playing with his interactive home décor, and trying to at least derive some measure of fun out of being a rich gangster. Of course the Count is a bloodthirsty paranoiac, but we can’t always get everything we want.