Written by Paul Greengrass & Asne Seierstad, based on the book “One of Us”, and directed by Paul Greengrass. Based on the true events from July 22nd, 2011 when a Knights of the Templar terrorist parked a van bomb outside the offices of Norway’s Prime Minister, blew it up, and then went on a shooting rampage on a neighboring island which was holding a leadership camp for high school/college age kids.
The movie opens with alternating sequences of the young man, Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli) who arrives to the island with his younger brother for a youth leadership camp and Knights of the Templar terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) as he grinds explosive substance and mixes it with gasoline to make huge quantities of plastique. It quickly escalates as Breivik parks the van and walks away and heads to the island. Meanwhile, the campers and counselors are doing group leadership exercises or playing group sports, or just socializing. They’ve been made aware of the bombing and while they’re checking in with their parents who work in the building, Breivik arrives on the island. He immediately begins calculatingly shooting every person in his path and hunting the ones who are now running in every direction in complete terror. Viljar manages to call his mother while hanging on the side of a cliff and tells her they’re being shot at. This information is relayed to the police who make their way to the island. The terrorist Breivik surrenders as soon as he sees the police. This is when it’s revealed who is is and what his mission is. He asks for an attorney, who has no connection to him but is obligated to represent him, and it becomes clear the aftermath of an attack like this reaches far and deep. It also focuses on one of the survivors of the island attack, Viljar, as he recovers from multiple gunshot wounds and his decision to testify as it gets closer to the trial.
This film does come with a graphic or disturbing images and violence disclaimer; however, it isn’t the images necessarily which are disturbing, it’s the cold, calculating, focus, and determination of Breivik’s approach to his mission and willingness to carry it out without remorse AND being based on TRUE events. At almost 2 1/2 hours, this film is riveting and held me every second to the end. The chaos of the explosion, the terror and chaos of the island, and the brilliant acting by all, and the look into the Prime Minister’s thought process and actions of the court during this time. How they dealt with this terrorist attack, the aftermath, and the changes they made to their country after the event. Norway is a gorgeous country in the nicest of weather and the harshest of winters. The people of Norway are resilient in many ways and strive for equality and diversity. It shows how connected they are as community, how supportive of each other they are, and how little they tolerate. It also gives a glimpse of how difficult it is to be a defense attorney for such a hated defendant while disagreeing with what the person did but believing in the right to a fair trial per the laws of justice as well as being threatened by the community for upholding your position as an attorney. I felt so many things watching this film and was surprised but not surprised I had not heard of this attack (to my knowledge). All in all, the terrorist Breivik killed 77 people (69 on the island and 8 at the office building) and wounded hundreds.
This film is dramatic yet hopeful and will keep you engaged from the first frame to the end frame. Riveting and terrifying and true. Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below: