Beyond the Border boasts in interesting rescue/revenge story, but falls short with too many dull moments between the action and lack of fleshed out characters.
It’s the winter of 1942 and although Sweden is neutral in the war, they’ve armed their borders and set up road blocks. A couple of Swedish soldiers posted at one of the road blocks get curious about the German occupied Norway and decide to head out on skis in the middle of the night; which turns out to be a bad idea.
After getting caught by the Germans they sought out, Aron Stenström (André Sjöberg) learns that his brother, Sven (Martin Wallström), is one of the two captured soldiers. From here, it’s no holds barred as Aron seeks to save his brother, with the assistance of Wille Järvinen (Antti Reini), who is apparently the only Swede to have seen actual combat.
Meanwhile, when the higher ups learn of the border crossing, and the subsequent rescue mission, things get even more complicated as Aron and Järvinen learn that even their own countrymen can’t be trusted.
The acting is good across the board, although many of the cast members having little experience to draw from. But the film moves at a snails pace. With a runtime over two hours Beyond the Border is at least 30 minutes too long. There are a lot of scenes of military personnel talking to each other about what’s going on and what needs to happen. I felt some compassion for Aron, because he’s leaving behind his pregnant fiancée on an almost certain suicide mission, but Aron himself is a wimp and one dimensional, at least during the first half of the film.
The most interesting character in the film is Järvinen. His weathered face and glass eye make it all too evident that Järvinen has seen some hard times, and he’s a character worth rooting for. The script fails to flesh out these characters (although Järvinen gets a little attention here) over its exhaustive runtime. Scenes that should have been used for character development are instead filled with soldiers walking or skiing through the woods.
The second half of Beyond the Border is a different matter, well, parts anyway. When things get rolling, the film delivers a few scenes of death and torture that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. These moments are few and far between and soon I was left wanting more but instead, getting less. This is complicated by the lack of style in the film. The scenes are shot in a very basic made for TV way that is made worse by the cold crisp look of digital filming.
The Nazis look and act just like we expect them to—mindless killers who would rather torture their enemies than dispatch them. Nazi soldiers usually aren’t given much depth, but one look at Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) shows how fleshing out the villain is just as important as fleshing out the hero.
With the exception of the few Tarantino moments, Beyond the Border is a boring film that had a lot of potential and (I think) the talent to pull it off.
Beyond the Border is out on DVD 8th August 2011.
Director: Richard Holm
Writer: André Sjöberg, Johnny Steen
Cast: André Sjöberg, Bjørn Sundquist, Antii Reini
Runtime: 122 minutes