“This is a gig!” screams a gang of masked assailants as they enter a busy Swedish bank. The customers are pushed and prodded, forced into a corner, hiding behind their ruffled suits as the perpetrators begin to activate the shredders, printing cash and destroying it in front of them, an activity that involves the ruffling of dollars, the tapping of keyboards, the clang of coins against glass, and yes, maybe some added percussive activities. It’s music, and it’s only one of many “attacks” from this ambitious group.
A terrorist group by definition, these musicians, who won’t sing or dance, instead perform acts of disruption, seeking no material gain aside from bringing the sound of chaos to everyone’s doorstep. To them, the enemy is convention, and while they arrange their attacks as “movements,” each with its own separate attack point, their weapon of choice are endless looping drums. Essentially, what if “Stomp” had an agenda.
Directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, “Sound Of Noise” is cleverly, strictly defined as a heist film, honoring the conventions of the genre before we even realize nothing is being heisted, exactly. Early on, the two leaders of the gang are even seen scouting and recruiting fellow drummers, reading off dossiers as we watch these musicians struggle in unnatural habitats. This is all straight-faced, of course. Drums are not a joke, they’re a way of life. These guys can’t even flee during a chase scene without picking up some drumsticks.
In hot pursuit is a rogue cop, the only one on the force who seems to understand what this group is doing. Unfortunately, not only is he tone-deaf, but his hearing is dropping out as well. He announces that he will “rid this city of musician scum” but clearly he sees something in this group that he’s been denying about himself for years. Oh, and by the way, his name is Amadeus.
Based around one central gimmick, the otherwise skimpy “Sound Of Noise” doesn’t overstay its welcome, paced in accordance with its musical set-pieces. Not necessarily a musical, it’s moments of downtime still seemingly choreographed by the insistent whir of a Metronome, much like the one our gang leaves at the scene of the crime. As such, it’s terrific fun, building to an unlikely climax involving entire city blocks and a confluence of light and sound more exciting than most climactic blockbuster explosions. Movies have long thrilled in teaching audiences that some problems can be solved with a punch or a finely-tuned monologue or two. Finally, someone has substituted percussion instead. [B]