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Kontroll

Tickets, Please.

Nimrod Antal's film debut begins with a jolt as an inebriated partier is abruptly pushed into an oncoming subway train. Thus, the stage is set for a thrilling mystery to uncover the identity of the nefarious killer. However, Kontroll is far from a conventional thriller. Antal throws in comedic and romantic touches that lively things up, but simultaneously create a tone that is somewhat confused.

In Kontroll, the Budapest subway system is sexier, seamier, and more complex than an Amsterdam sex show. The dark twists and turns of this netherworld are rife with mystery and intrigue. What lurks in the shadows is anyone's guess. Antal sheds light on a world that is transitory and impermanent to most of us.

Inhabiting this world is a motley crew of 'Kontrollers' who ensure that all travelers possess a ticket for the subway. A narcoleptic, a neophyte, a craggy burnout, and a pervert are but a few of the sterling gentlemen employed by the Budapest subway system. The antics of these various misfits provides more than a few moments of comedic levity to a film that is literally and figuratively cloaked in darkness.

Amidst this rabble is the enigmatic Bulcsu, who for reasons unknown has jettisoned an above ground existence in favor of this shadowy subterranean existence. Identifying the subway killer is just one of the mysteries to be solved in Kontroll as Bulcsu's shady past and bizarre current existence raise more than a few questions. Sandor Csanyi brings a foreboding, moody presence to his portrayal of Bulcsu. While far from perfect, it's evident Bulcsu is the most capable Kontroller of his crew.

Despite interesting characters and the wonderfully dystopian setting, Kontroll loses some steam in the middle stage of the film. Initially, the focus appears to be on uncovering the mysterious subway killer. This focus then drifts to Bulcsu and his internal struggles. Then, a fledgling romance develops between Bulcsu and a passenger clad in a bear costume. Then, towards the end of the film focus shifts again back to tracking down the subway killer as Bulcsu becomes a suspect.

While Antal is brave in amalgamating disparate genre elements, the execution is not flawless. That being said, Kontroll is still a ride worth taking.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars