Some historical events deserve a film showing what went on, why it happened and what the fall out was, and others don’t. There are seemingly many good films that people make about these events. But there are just as many, if not more, bad ones. Unfortunately Powder Keg is one of the bad ones.
Powder Keg explores four central characters of the February 2015 terrorist attack in Copenhagen. It takes a look at the lives of the two victims, Finn Nørgaard (Riders of Justice‘s Lars Brygmann) and Dan Uzan (played by newcomer Adam Buschard). It also looks at the terrorist Omar El-Hussein (played by newcomer Albert Arthur Amiryan). And lastly, it looks at one of the cops on Omar’s trail, Rico (Games of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The movie essentially looks at all four of them in the days leading up to the attack and the day of the attack itself. Specifcally, it shows all four feel a lot of frustration with their lives.
There are many problems with Powder Keg, one of which is that it mixes fact with fiction. While three of the characters are real, Rico is not. Rico is by far the most interesting of the characters as well, which is probably why they felt they needed to include him in the film. A lot of the background that they included is something the writers wouldn’t know about. And so, they created fiction around the real lives of the people who died. The film also faces the problem of being boring, and that’s simply because not a lot happens throughout it. The actors struggle with the thin script as they try to define their characters for us.
While character building adds to the sadness of the situation, you could have easily skipped half of the film and still known enough about them to feel bad for what happened to them. The director also seems to enjoy close-up shots of his characters’ faces and eyes which gets annoying at times. It’s especially annoying since it usually happens while nothing is being said. The one thing they do get right, whether it was on purpose or not, is how quickly the attacks themselves happens. It feels as sudden as it probably did that day, and leaves you feeling shocked.
There’s a possibility that Powder Keg could have been made into a better film, but it’s doubtful. What it comes down to is that there really isn’t much of a story to tell. The events were sad, horrific and makes you want to know the answer why. But we will never know the reasons for it, which leaves us as empty as this film.