🇸🇪 SNABBA CASH 🇸🇪
SNABBA CASH (2021) is a Swedish Netflix Original series. Action, crime, drama, thriller. 6 x 38-51 min. Cert 15 U.K. Available with subtitles and dubbing.
“The entrepreneurial jet-set, as well as the criminal world, is more brutal, chaotic and ruthless than ever. When these two worlds collide, loyalty, friendships and business partners will all be tested in the never-ending quest for easy money.” IMDb
Evin Ahmad as Leya
Alexander Abdallah as Salim
Ayaan Ahmed as Nala
Ali Alarik as Tim
Dada Fungula Bozela as Ravy
Nadja Christiansson as Ronja
Olle Sarri as Tomas Storm
Egon Ebbersten as Martin Wallin
Peter Eggers as Marcus Werner
Love Ehn as Leon
Alex Moore Eklund as Barre
Yussra El Abdouni as Fatima
Fredrik Evers as Tim’s Father
Directors: Jesper Ganslandt & Måns Månsson
Writers: Oskar Söderlund (head writer), Michael Hjorth, Mona Masri, Mikkel Bak Sørensen & Jens Lapidus
Cinematographer: Jonas Alarik & Erik Molberg Hansen
Music: Erik Enocksson
Sound: Björn Baummann, Andreas Franck, Josefin Frick, Anders Niva, Nicklas Lindh etc.
“Snabba” means “quick”, “fast”, “speedy”, “easy”.
Snabba Cash was filmed on location in Stockholm in 2020. The production had to navigate the difficulties posed by Covid for filming safely. Nevertheless, the 6 episodes were completed following strict protocols and safety measures.
This series is inspired by the Jens’ Lapidus trilogy of novels which spawned a trilogy of movies from 2010-2013. Jens Lapidus is also an Executive Producer for this show.
For the most part, the cast members are either totally unknown or have little role identification.
At one point Leya goes on a helicopter trip, looking out of the window she sees Stockholm and the “projects”.
“HOW FAR WILL YOU GO?”
I had been waiting what felt like forever for Snabba Cash to arrive on Netflix. Since it was first announced with its incredible provenance, followed by casting announcements this total reboot of the hit, cult films of the 2010s was incredibly enticing. So was my excited anticipation fulfilled? Yes, it was and let me try to put into adequate words exactly why and how.
Right from the start, this series sprints out of the starting blocks. In the first episode, the various contexts and characters are introduced in a way that is both shocking and exhilarating. Immediately we see a contrast between the “projects” of Stockholm to the location of the projects of a start-up entrepreneur. The “street” dialogue is frequently eye-watering (and that’s without it all being translated!) and the action pulls no punches. I will say at the start that both the writing and construction of this show are outstanding.
Initially, we have three characters and their lives laid out before us. Around these revolve several other characters that have a variety of roles to play in the story especially with the conflicts and drama. Throughout the series, these characters find their lives increasingly enmeshed. Let us take a look at these main characters.
Firstly, we have Leya, a widowed single parent with a small son who is not only trying to launch a start-up but also works in the family restaurant. She is smart, ambitious, success and money-oriented driven by a desire to escape her present life for the benefit of herself and her young son. We see her juggling parenthood with these other demands, and varying degrees of success, sometimes calling on last resorts. Is she, I wonder, innately attracted to men who are at the sharp end of the criminal world?
We see her moral stance becoming very muddied (and muddled) as the show progresses. She tells herself that everything she does is for her son, but (and this is telling) all he wants at the end of the day is to play hide-and-seek with Salim. Her struggle is an enhanced version of the struggle of very many single parents.
Ultimately, her naivety and decisions increase tension, true jeopardy and have absolutely tragic consequences. Evin Ahmad as Leya gives an immense, nuanced and captivating performance with great emotional range. Good to see a strong female character at the centre of this story!
Another key character is Salim an attractive gang enforcer with a sideline as a wedding singer. When we first meet him it is clear that Salim is not in a good place mentally with his main job and this only deteriorates as his story progresses.
His best friend and colleague (in this world that means going out and shooting people) is the “Kurdish Rambo” Ari. His other “friend” is Ravy, but he is also Salim’s boss so… Salim is stressed and depressed, cannot sleep at night, has flashbacks and self-medicates by smoking heroin… (fairly standard PTSD then). all this on top of whatever he experienced as a Kurdish boy in war-torn Syria. He shows both physical and mental scars. This is a damaged man looking for love and true meaning to life. Alexander Abdallah’s performance (along with the sizzling on-screen chemistry between Salim and Leya) is phenomenal and shows enormous range.
The third character is that of Tim, the 15-year-old “Suedi” who the Swedish police are far less likely to suspect, stop and search because, put simply, he is white. Tim’s mother has abandoned him and his father is a man he despises. He wants to be a “big man” and is easily recruited into becoming a runner by gang members. A gun makes him into this person he wants to become (or so he thinks) and he ignores all words of advice from his father, his friends and even his role model Salim (who, let’s face it knows exactly where this will most likely end for Tim). A scene with a toy helicopter reminds us how young this boy really is. A solid debut performance from this young actor.
The other important characters in the story are also mostly toxic in some way. From Ravy who also wants to leave the “profession” to the larger than life, monstrous Tomas Storm who states that “Making money is never bad” whilst having a very flexible attitude towards breaking the law. Nala and Leon are a dangerous “shoot first ask questions later” duo. Marcus, the drug lord, is portrayed as a volatile, scary and truly dangerous man who is not one to cross (and yet…) Without exception, the supporting cast is as solid as a rock!
We meet “bad” people who do bad things but see that they have needs, motivations, strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately these are not just “evil” or “bad” stereotypes and as the focus swivels, we see “good” people do bad things too. The lines are very blurred and there are shades of grey. These are characters that are drawn as real people. We become very engaged with them and are concerned about what will happen to them.
The idea of what people will do to make money is a clear theme of this show and we certainly see how this desire can corrupt and taint everything it touches but for me, there are more important underlying themes. Loyalty and love are very important to this story and the characters that populate it. Love of all types, romantic, family, parental, brotherly…
Two of the main drives are conflicts of interest and loyalty. In many ways, this is a story that feels quite Shakespearean even down to the device of the loss of a big bag of drugs! Another facet is what is real courage? Who in this story is truly courageous? Who is prepared to make real and personal sacrifices?
There are some fantastic set-piece scenes in Snabba Cash, from smashing up shops to manic chases, from raids to drug drop-offs and massive shoot outs. Kudos to stunts and special effects! Real heart-pounding, hands sweating and shaking stuff!
The sound design of this show is incredible and adds further to the realism. The soundtrack is perfect as is THAT song for the opening credits. What I also really liked is that music is not overused, as is so often the case, to create mood this show is not afraid to use silence and only ambient noise.
The direction is fantastic and combined with the cinematography makes for a gritty, realistic, visceral experience. Does it overuse shaky cam? I loved the disorientation, anxiety and realism this brings and didn’t find it excessive at all (but it is a technique that some find tricky to deal with).
Some of the shots in this show are simply beautiful. Set between the action sequences are quiet, personal scenes which show us relationships. The decision to make one decisive scene intimate and almost stage-like was perfect!
Snabba Cash is not for the faint of heart as it is ultra-realistic, absolutely brutal, violent, emotionally affecting and tragic. This is a show with a lot of heart and truth at its centre. You might be disappointed if all you want from a show are stereotypical bad guys and good guys. Highly recommended if you know and accept what you are going into.
Finally, here I am desperately hoping that a season 2 is confirmed and that ultimately we receive a trilogy. I unreservedly loved this!
“Making money is never bad” Really?