Danish thriller sets Resistance loose on Nazis

Unlike Quentin Taratino’s wild, Nazi-killing romp, Inglourious Basterds, the Danish film Flame and Citron is a historically based thriller. However, the story does merit a superficial comparison: it tells the story of Resistance fighters whose overarching goal is the assassination of as many Nazis as possible.

The first-rate, edge-of-your-seat drama is set in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1944 and follows two Resistance fighters — 23-year-old Bent (Thure Lindhardt), nicknamed Flame for his bright red hair and relentless passion for killing Nazis and his getaway driver, 33-year-old Jorgen (Mads Mikkelsen), nicknamed Citron.


The pair slips boldly in and out of Nazi haunts unnoticed, hides in plain sight with the aid of official Danish police badges and other help from loyalists in the local city infrastructure. Meanwhile, they systematically and coolly eliminate key members of the Nazi leadership and Danish collaborators helping them.

Like gangsters, Flame and Citron are underground, illegal and violent — an efficient killing team with a price on their heads from the Nazi occupiers.

Although the film is set in 1940s Copenhagen, the feel of this excellent film is wholly modern. Director Ole Christian Madsen crafts a gripping tale that often feels like a gangster film, with action that’s fast-paced and stylistic. The film unfolds like a thriller, filled with intrigue and double crosses.

Neither Flame nor Citron is Jewish, but their hatred for Nazis traces to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. Before the Nazis occupied the country, Jorgen helped Jewish families flee the invading army. Young Bent was studying to become a chef and hotel manager in Germany, where he watched in horror as the Nazis picked up a young Jewish co-worker.

While these two are straightforward in their goal to eliminate as many Germans as possible, things are murkier with the underground chain of command. The film is full of uncertainties, twists and turns and shifting stories and loyalties.

As their Nazi targets try to scheme their way out of execution, the nature of the work wears down the idealistic Flame. The film explores both his and Citron’s inner struggles. Citron’s work keeps him apart from this wife and daughter, taking an emotional toll on all.

But the major focus of this thriller is its suspense and action, betrayal and loyalty, revenge and self-preservation. The acting is skillful, nuanced and effective. And the fact that the story is based on real people and real events adds an extra dimension to the action.

Flame and Citron opens Friday, December 18 at the Tivoli Theatre and Plaza Frontenac Cinema. The film is in Danish and German, with English subtitles.