Review by Sean Boelman
Capitalizing on the popularity of Game of Thrones alum Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, director Jonas Alexander Arnby’s Exit Plan is perhaps the most ambitious of these starring vehicles yet. Perfectly taking advantage of Coster-Waldau’s talents while offering an intriguing sci-fi premise, this film is much more thoughtful than one would initially expect.
The film follows an insurance investigator who, in the midst of an existential crisis of his own, begins to investigate a claim involving a mysterious hotel that specializes in assisted suicides. It’s an intriguing sci-fi premise that seems almost like something one would see in an episode of Black Mirror because of its eerie but somber and meditative tone.
Perhaps the biggest success of this film is its ability to get the audience in the headspace of the protagonist. Over the course of the film, he starts to lose his grip on reality, trying to understand the nuances of life and death. Ultimately, what the film seems to want the audience to take away is that it is impossible to truly comprehend these processes and it’s futile to try.
There are also some very interesting conversations in the film, aided by some extremely strong dialogue, that will undoubtedly provoke thought. One of the best scenes in the film features one of the “stand-ins” who helps create the “perfect death” for the guests of the hotel as she discusses the superficial feelings and desires that people experience as they exit this world.
Coster-Waldau is absolutely brilliant in his leading role, giving a performance that is much more nuanced than anything else he has done since his most reliable source of income has come to an end. Perhaps the biggest mistake being made by Hollywood is typecasting him as an action star, as this film proves that he has greater potential in offering dramatic turns.
Arnby does a good job of immersing the viewer in the dreamlike world of the film. This is particularly important in the second half, which is set in the hotel, but there are subtle and effective cues in the production design and cinematography sprinkled throughout the film to make the viewer feel like they are a part of this not-too-distant future.
That said, one of the film’s missed opportunities is that it doesn’t really explore the ethics of assisted suicide with much depth. This is a very hot-button topic, with some cultures being much more accepting of it than others, so it’s disappointing that writer Ramsus Birch didn’t take more time to flesh out these ideas more thoroughly.
Exit Plan is an impressive work of high-concept sci-fi that is sure to please fans of the genre. If nothing else, hopefully this will lead Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to get taken seriously as an actor and get more meaty roles like this.
Exit Plan hits VOD on June 12.