Conspicuously red-headed, twenty-something “Flame” (Thure Lindhart, “Angels and Demons“) is both a tortured romantic and an efficient killer and anti-Nazi patriot. Whether the target is a Gestapo officer or a pro-Nazi journalist, he’s efficient and not too concerned with moral fine-points — except, perhaps, when it comes to women. Former automotive saboteur “Citron” (Mads Mikkelson, the evil Le Chiffre of “Casino Royale“), however, is overtly troubled by the job, and even more so by his deteriorating marriage. Things become torturous for the pair, comrades but perhaps not quite friends, when a series of events involving questionable leadership, traitors within the resistance, and Flame’s emotional attachment to a sexy and sympathetic resistance spy (Stine Stengade) makes them wonder just how many of right and wrong people they’ve been killing, and why the local Gestapo head (Christian Berkel) isn’t one of them.
“Flame and Citron” attempts to blend the blunt realism of an anti-Nazi resistance thriller like Jean-Pierre Melville’s recently rediscovered “Army of Shadows” with a contemporary action film. Initially, director/co-writer Ole Christian Madsen’s bombast and an overlong first act partially derail matters in this 2008 Danish language production, but once it gets going, the film achieves its goal and becomes an honest look at the real cost of killing. A genuinely affecting, complex story kept remarkably clear by Madsen, strong acting (sometimes too strong), and some painfully effective action sequences makes this film a bitterly poignant reminder of the real cost of World War II.