R: Hit First, Hit Hardest Review

Bleak but captivating, R is a Danish prison drama which doesn’t pull any punches. Despite having many brilliant moments it is let down by a lack of direction and by the end it is difficult to understand what the directors were aiming for.

It opens typically with a strip search before, new inmate Rune is led to his cell. Just like A Prophet there is a clear divide between the Albanian and Caucasian inmates, which Rune soon gets embroiled in with terrible consequences.

R will definitely not be to everyone’s tastes with several brutal moments of violence, but for those that can stomach it there lies a gripping drama underneath. Seen from Rune’s perspective, there is a constant sense of unease running throughout the film as he tries to escape from harm’s way and merely get by without landing himself in more trouble. Ewan McGregor lookalike Johan Philip Asbæk is perfectly cast in the role, playing the part with a sense of vulnerability which pulls the audience in, and it would be no surprise if he moves onto greater things.

In many ways R resembles Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy with its nightmarish portrayal of criminality, use of handheld camerawork and great moments of characterization. Sadly it isn’t anywhere near as thought provoking lacking any real examination of cultural politics or even the Danish Justice system. There was much to be explored but it merely scratches the surface, remaining little more than yet another prison drama.

Overall R: Hit First, Hit Hardest is a gripping and disturbing insight into prison life but could have been so much more. Anybody expecting another A Prophet will be bitterly disappointed.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.