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Will Joel Kinnaman Make a Killing as Robocop?

July 12, 2012

Two years ago, you probably hadn’t heard of Joel Kinnaman…unless you lived in Sweden. His starring role in the snazzily titled 2010 crime thriller Snabba Cash—the highest-grossing Swedish film in history—won him the Guldbagge Award (the Swedish equivalent of the Oscar) for Best Actor and caught Hollywood’s attention. After auditioning for the lead roles in Thor and Mad MaxFury Road, he was cast as skeevy ex-methhead detective Stephen Holder on AMC’s acclaimed drama The Killing. Now he’s landed the title role in next year’s reboot of RoboCop. Perhaps as a result, Snabba Cash has finally been released in the U.S., retitled Easy Money (not to be confused with the Rodney Dangerfield farce of the same name) and “presented” by Martin Scorsese. And it bodes extremely well for Kinnaman’s big-screen future.

Kinnaman simmers charismatically as J.W., a penniless graduate business student who swims in social circles way over his head. He stumbles upon a drug-dealing scheme that promises “snabba cash,” but of course, the money doesn’t turn out to be quite so easy to make. The tense narrative has already led to a Hollywood career for director Daniel Espinosa, who also helmed this year’s solid Denzel Washington crime drama Safe House (in which Kinnaman costarred). Kinnaman’s completed work on the sequel, Snabba Cash II, which will be released next month in Sweden. It remains to be seen how much cash Easy Money will make it in the States—it’s currently playing on only one screen, at New York City’s Film Forum—but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be a summer sleeper.

Kinnaman’s had supporting roles in David Fincher’s version of the Swedish crime thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as well as the recently released indie rom-com Lola Versus, but Robocop will be his first big Hollywood test. If it’s a hit, it could launch an American cinematic career, especially if AMC chooses not to renew The Killing after its marginally rated (and reviewed) second season. Of course, the role comes with built-in challenges—he’ll be encased in a metal suit, and the emotional range is limited. But Peter Weller translated the original Robocop‘s success into lead roles in quality films like David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. Along with his electrifying turn in The Killing, Kinnaman’s breakout performance in Snabba Cash shows he can work both sides of the law—and in two different languages—with equal dexterity. An actor with that kind of range could prove to be Easy Money in the bank.

Has Joel Kinnaman got what it takes to make it in Hollywood? Post a comment!

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