Thale is another movie that Netflix thought I would LOVE. Despite getting burned over-and-over, I still fall for that star system time and again. And Thale had an estimated rating of 4.4/5. How could I resist? The synopsis sounded interesting enough. You’ve got your crime/trauma scene cleaning crew, your Norwegian mythology, your “beautiful mute female with a tail” (uh oh), and so on. So, I put it in my queue and promptly forgot about it until last night. My near-nightly ritual of scanning through Netflix offerings brought me around to Thale and I thought, “This will do.” Don’t forget to follow this blog for more exciting stories about how I decided on what to watch!
Elvis (i’m not kidding) and Leo work together as crime/trauma scene cleaners. Elvis is just filling in for Leo’s regular partner and doesn’t really have the stomach for the work. Nor does he have the discipline to not completely contaminate a potential crime scene when they discover a secret basement under a shed where an old man died. He pokes around the space, playing a cassette tape, touching things, etc. despite Leo’s protests. When a mute young woman emerges completely naked from a tub filled with an opaque liquid, Elvis and Leo take different paths in dealing with her. Leo tries to get a cell signal to call for some help (unsuccessfully). Elvis investigates further, trying to learn about the woman. He finds strange medical texts, hears screaming on the tapes, learns the woman’s name is Thale, and then he discovers a tail in a mini-fridge. The woman’s tail! Just as Leo is warming up to the woman/creature, biohazard suited special forces soldiers show up. It doesn’t end well for them. Turns out, sweet, timid Thale is a badass CQC expert who sticks assault rifles right through dudes’ chests in bullet-time!
Thale started off with so much promise. I really liked the idea of the plot borrowing from Norwegian (Norse?) mythology and blending it with a modern setup. Silje Reinåmo (Thale) is good as the doe-eyed creature woman. The guys are likeable enough, though their relationship is a bit unclear. They seem cordial, but not really like good buds. But, in the epilogue, it seems like they’re old besties. And that epilogue… ugh. It was so maudlin and unbelievable. It raised more questions than it answered about the guys’ relationship/history. I honestly liked the film all the way until the secret government black ops guys showed up. It’s such a tired trope and this film did nothing to make it unique in any way. Every piece in that worn-out puzzle is there – the faceless beatdown fodder soldiers, the cold-hearted old boss calling the shots, and the tired interrogation scenes. The action scenes were pretty stylish though. Reinåmo kicks some ass completely in the nude. I was impressed when I saw Viggo Mortensen do it in Eastern Promises and I was even more impressed when I saw Reinåmo do it in this film. It seems an especially bold thing for a woman to do for a role. (is that sexist? i don’t mean it to be. i say that as a criticism of… you know what? you’re going to have to assume good faith, because i’m really getting off track here) The problem is, the film went in a direction that I didn’t like. All of the naked ass kicking in the world couldn’t have changed the fact that I was rolling my eyes at the weak plot device. One more thing – the film features some wild “hulders” (creatures like Thale, but more feral and beastly) that in long shots look decent, though the CGI animation is a bit jerky, but in close up it looks like Playstation 1 level rendered graphics. P-S-1! Just so bad. I understand that budget constraints limit the quality of CGI. I do. But, why use it at all? The CG hulders looked NOTHING like Thale (a real woman) except that they were naked. I would much prefer real women in practical hulder creature effects. Not that it would have saved the film, but it would have made it a little bit better.
Bonus review content (you’re welcome): The actor who plays Elvis (Erlend Nervold) looks like he could be Bob Odenkirk‘s younger, identical cousin!
THE FINAL CUT: Before the automatic weapons show up in Thale, the film is intimate and mysterious. Then it piles a hackneyed special ops raid onto what promised to be an interesting plot. The poor CGI pushes the film further into the abyss.