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  Pusher III Force Of Habit
Year: 2005
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Zlatko Buric, Marinela Dekic, Slavko Labovic, Ramadan Huseini, Ilyas Agac, Kujtim Loki, Vasilije Bojicic, Levino Jensen, Marek Marierecki, Sven Erik Eskeland Larsen, Karsten Schroder, Hakan Turan, Susan Petersen, Gitte Dan, Kurt Nielsen
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Milo (Zlatko Buric) is a drugs baron who has been partaking of a little too much of his own supply recently, so has started to attend narcotics anonymous meetings to try and go straight, though he remains dedicated to keeping his many customers hooked on his product, he has his expenses after all. So at five days clean he wants to be ready for his daughter Milena (Marinela Dekic), who is celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday tonight, and Milo has been arranging the party which is doubling as a do for her wedding plans. However, a spanner in the works may be that consignment of heroin he has just taken possession of - it's not heroin at all.

As the title indicates, this was the third in director Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher Trilogy, a series of dramatic thrillers that were supposed to be progressing to a fourth instalment but ended up being curtailed after he vowed never to make another movie in his native Denmark again when this was landed with such a terrible reaction there that Refn went in the huff. You can see why it was so badly received as it descends into horror flick territory in its latter stages, not likely what many in the audience had signed up for, but for a more open-minded cineaste, it was an embrace of the trashier side of moviemaking that he made no secret of being a major fan of.

Fair enough, the racist and sexist dialogue of the first two efforts, blatantly a try at drumming up controversy, had been replaced by extreme visuals, culminating in two Muslim characters being prepared in halal style, all the better to dispose of their bodies, which came across as such heavy-handed button-pushing that it was almost comical. But perhaps Refn had bitten off more than he could chew given the hate the famously liberal Danes inflicted on Pusher III, not that it harmed his career very much, and there were other rumours he had abandoned the series because the proposed star of the next sequel had wound up in prison in real life, rather than the fiction.

Nevertheless, Refn's country of origin had been left behind as his reputation as a stylist grew internationally, so where does that leave this threequel? Actually, if you were not offended, it was the best of the series, taking an unlikely lead as its hero (or antihero) and giving him his due, revealing him to be the least cliched of the three protagonists thanks to Milo not being the most obvious choice to build a story around. Maybe a comedy, a variation on the old Edward G. Robinson vehicle A Slight Case of Murder which it was not a million miles away from, would have been the easy direction for Milo, and there were a few scattered laughs to be had from how ridiculous it quickly became, but instead of that there were sequences of surprising tension that helped propel the action into original locations.

Buric, previously a nice little role in a bigger picture with the eccentricity that he fancied himself as a great cook, was offered a fuller portrayal and proved more than up to the task, an unlikely leading man but that was what made him compelling rather than a dead loss. If you had seen the other movies, you would know that no matter how avuncular he was, he was not a man to mess with, though in the first half Milo was almost a figure of fun, even the butt of jokes from the director and other characters. Yet as the birthday party progresses, he is desperately trying to keep his business operating behind the scenes as it turns out the heroin he ordered is ecstasy tablets, and then again might not be that either, placing him in a difficult position with people traffickers selling a terrified, forced prostitute on the premises of his bar. Throw in his men throwing up because his cooking gave them food poisoning (!) and Milo will have to go further than ever to get through this night, just as the heroin addiction kicks in again. If it was too keen to shock and show off, it was an intense experience, nonetheless. Music by Peter Peter.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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