During a time of high police tension, two officers find themselves trapped in a notorious estate as riots break out in writer/directors Frederick Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm’s gripping and timely Danish drama Shorta.
Escape from Svalgårdenby Chris Drew
In a powerful opening we learn that ‘shorta’ is an Arabic word for ‘police’, before seeing a teenage Arab desperately struggling to breathe, another apparent victim of police brutality.
In the police station we learn the teen was Talib Ben Hassi from the fictitious Copenhagen area of Svalgården and is currently in ICU while two officers are on forced leave under investigation of using excessive force.
Officer Jens Høyer (Simon Sears, The Exception), who we discover was on duty when Ben Hassi was attacked, is partnered with the unpredictable Mike Anderson (Jacob Lohmann, Valhalla – The Legend of Thor) for a shift which will stretch them both to the limit.
Seeing a child in a suspicious car, they are led to Svalgården where there are a number of tense encounters culminating in Anderson humiliating teenager Amos (Tarek Zayat in his film debut) during an illegal search.
Afterwards the group Amos is with retaliates by throwing a milkshake at the police car. Amos is quickly arrested and it’s then that Høyer and Anderson hear that Ben Hassi has succumbed to his injuries. The response from the Svalgården locals is immediate, with rocks launched at the car and suddenly Høyer and Anderson, with Amos in tow, are suddenly under intense threat and must get out of the area as soon as possible.
But there are also internal conflicts as Anderson knows Høyer has not yet given his statement about the Ben Hassi incident and demands that he protects their two colleagues.
What follows is a series of increasingly high-stakes situations that Høyer and Anderson must extract themselves from, while they learn uneasily more about Amos, in the process of the team gradually building some loyalty to Høyer.
The stakes continually rise throughout as the two men are hunted by gangs and, as in Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive, there is a horrifically memorable scene in a lift.
As the enigmatic Høyer, Sears gives an enjoyably complex performance displaying the officer’s conflicted thoughts of fear and guilt, while Lohmann commands the screen as the dangerous and hotheaded Anderson, who is given some level of redemption in the gripping third act.
Shorta is an urgent and visceral thriller about split-second decisions and the importance of how we react to them.
Shorta is released in cinemas and on digital platforms on 3 September 2021 in the UK.