What "At World's End" Lacks in Polish, It Makes Up in Energy and Odd Charm at FLIFF
He's normally reticent, nerdy, and on edge, but by midway through this film, Danish psychologist Adrian Gabrielsen (Nikoaj Lie Kaas) proves that behind his wire-rimmed specs lurks the will of Rambo. After suffering under an overbearing father and a stagnating practice, Gabrielsen jumps at an offer from the Danish government to profile a unique prisoner — Serevin Geertsen, who was arrested after murdering a BBC crew documenting wildlife in the jungle. The crew's offense? It came across his beloved flower, "Herdvig," the petals of which, Geertsen claims, have kept him alive for 129 years. Rather than a normal doctor-patient relationship, what follows is a series of unfortunate encounters with corrupt military officials and mobster types, all of whom want to capitalize on the miracle plant. Before long, Gabrielsen finds himself locked up in the same Indonesian prison as Geertsen. The two then leave a bloody trail behind as they make their escape. While this action flick amps up the intensity through fast pacing and unending conflict, the darker topics — corruption, torture, family tensions — are softened by dry, deadpan dialogue and wry acting. Viewers will find subtle comedy in Gabrielsen's idiosyncrasies and propensity for bad luck and also (ironically) in the over-the-top violence that is sometimes so hilariously unbelievable, it verges on parody. The tired Fountain of Youth motif doesn't do much to improve the film, but what At World's End lacks in polish, it makes up for in energy and odd charm. Rambo would be proud.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.