Schneider, a hit man, gets a call from Mertens on the morning of his birthday. He has a rush job for Schneider who refuses it, because it is his birthday and he has promised Lucy, his wife, to help her with the preparations for the dinner party. Mertens insists that it is an important matter. Schneider is told that the target is Ramon Bax, a writer. He lives alone in a secluded place. "It's an easy job. With a little luck you're back home before noon." Schneider accepts the assignment. What seems to be a simple job turns out to be more than expected.
The part of Bax was intended for German actor Waldemar Kobus. However, he couldn't master the Dutch language or mannerisms required for the role. Director Alex van Warmerdam decided to take on the role himself on the advice of his wife and co-actor Annet Malherbe. See more »
Alex Van Warmerdam is a director with a very distinguishable cinematographic style. In most of his films, everything is just a little bit out of the ordinary, but it's hard to say why exactly. 'Schneider vs Bax' is no exception.
Nevertheless, I think this film is not as good as most of his other movies. This is a crime thriller about contract killers, and in such a film even Van Warmerdam needs a script that's tight and logical. Unfortunately, it is neither. There are strange, inexplicable events, the story swerves in all directions, and there is not really a lot of suspense.
You could argue that Van Warmerdam's unique, slightly bizarre style of film making compensates for these flaws. For some this might be the case, for me it wasn't. The unique Van Warmerdam chemistry of some of his other films didn't work as well in this one.
Still, there is much to enjoy. The phlegmatic way the killers behave, as if what they do is just as ordinary as baking a cake or driving a truck, is a nice feature. There is also the Dutch landscape of treeless lakes and flat marshes, with one wooden house in which much of the action takes place.
But overall, I think this film could have been a lot better with a script in which every action is functional and every person behaves logical. The acting was also a bit uneven. I liked Tom Dewispelaere as Schneider, but Van Warmerdam himself as Bax was less convincing. Maria Kraakman played a nice part as Bax's depressive daughter who seems to be a damsel in distress, but at the end enjoys pulling the trigger as much as the contract killers.
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