Vares Retrospective Part II: V2 – Jäätynyt enkeli (2007)

Three years after the first Vares film, the first of many sequels was unleashed upon an unsuspecting Finland, and very limited parts of the rest of the world. V2 – Jäätynyt enkeli (english title: V2 – Dead Angel) proceeded in much the same vein as Private Eye, but despite the budget being almost exactly the same, V2 is a slightly more polished work. It is the second and last film with the immortal Juha Veijonen as Jussi Vares, and in many ways these first two movies form a separate entity in relation to the rest of the films in the series (actually, it’s not quite so simple, but we’ll get to that later).

V2 is just as influenced by early Tarantino and Guy Richie as its predecessor, but not without adding an even heavier flavor of Finland to the proceedings. Like many Nordic crime films, the criminal underworld is perhaps a bit more hollywoodesque than is plausible, but the environments and cultural references still make it clear, even if one is not paying attention to the language, that this is no American, Swedish or Danish movie. The freeze frame character introductions are still there, made even more extreme this time around.

The story is contrived, but in a good way. Jussi Vares is hired by an old classmate and bully, turned used car salesman, to clear his name after he’s been accused of murdering a prostitute. Things soon get complicated, as it turns out that nothing is even remotely what it seems. There is no reason to post any real spoilers, but we can at least hint that the twist ending is probably unique in the genre. Despite concerning a major plot device, it is virtually irrelevant to the story that preceded it, which by itself is highly original and also amusing.

V2 also introduces a great character – tough as nails enforcer and certified giant Veikko Hopea, played by musician Jussi Lampi. This brutal monster of a man arrives to help some of the villains TCOB, and soon leaves a thick trace of bloodied noses, bodies, over the top action scenes and cool one-liners running through most of the film. The mood is set after he arrives in his home village after four years in Sweden, and his old buddies ask him if it’s true that he knows Swedish now. Hopea replies “not a word. But the guys in the cell block speak great Finnish.” If nothing else in this movie were appealing (and there’s plenty that is), Lampi’s Hopea would make watching it worthwhile all the same.

With that, we leave the first phase of the Vares film series behind. In the next installment, we will have a look at Vares – Pahan suudelma, which features a new lead actor, and some problematic developments, but also one or two improvements.

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