The buddy cop/action genre in cinema is a crowded one and it’s not easy to do something different with it. After films pairing up two men, two women, a man and a woman, a man and a dog, or a man and his mother, what else can be done? Cop Secret, the directorial film debut of former international goalkeeper Hannes Þór Halldórsson, explores the sexuality of the officers forced to team up – and what happens when one is in denial about himself.
Bússi (Auðunn Blöndal) is Reykjavík’s super cop and the classic tough guy – rugged, hard-drinking, rule-breaking – and trapped in a spiral of self-destruction. When banks in the city are targeted by a gang but nothing is stolen, political pressure to solve the case forces Bussi to team up with his rival, the sophisticated, wealthy and pansexual Hörður (Egill Einarsson). As they investigate, the criminals put their plan into action – and Bussi and Hörður may be the only hope Reykjavík has.
All of the tropes of an action blockbuster are lovingly deployed here, and fans of the genre will recognise the shoutouts to other great films such as Bad Boys or Lethal Weapon. Filmed on a shoestring budget, Cop Secret manages to use Reykjavík to full effect and while Iceland may not be the obvious choice for an action film, it still provides a warehouse for the climactic gunfight and the threat of mass destruction during a prolific womens’ football game.
Comedy and action are old bedfellows and they work very well in Cop Secret. However, while the relationship between Bussi and Hörður is occasionally comedic, there’s never any mockery. Bussi’s struggles with his sexuality are treated with sincerity, as is his burgeoning attraction to Hörður – and only the most cynical person won’t feel something heartfelt when Bussi finally accepts himself. This probably isn’t just due to the changing views of society but Halldórsson’s skills as a filmmaker, as well as Blöndal and Einarsson’s abilities as co-screenwriters.
In supporting roles, Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir perfectly encapsulates the role of frustrated police chief while Björn Hlynur Haraldsson is delightful as the brilliantly weird villain Rikki Ferrari, whose penchant to quip non-sequiturs about animals elevates him beyond the two-dimensional antagonist he might otherwise have become.
Sweet, funny, and with a deep love of action films, Cop Secret is an altogether fresh take on an established genre.
Director: Hannes Þór Halldórsson
Stars: Auðunn Blöndal, Egill Einarsson, Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson
Runtime: 98 minutes