The Norwegian historical crusader Max Manus — who lived from 1914 to 1996 — retains household name status among Scandinavians for his acts of daunting courage during the Second World War, but curiously, few non-historians outside of Northern Europe have heard of him. This adventure epic from co-directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg (Bandidas) represents the first mainstream effort to dramatize Manus’ efforts in feature form with elaborate re-creations of his heroic exploits. The bulk of the action spans April 9, 1940 through May 8, 1945, or the period of Nazi Germany’s Norwegian occupation. Despite an almost complete lack of formal education, Max (Aksel Hennie) grows completely outraged when Norway falls to Germany and permits the presence of an occupying puppet government within two months. In response, Manus bands together with some other indignant Norwegians and promptly forms a resistance outfit known as the “Rognes Organization” — a group dedicated to collecting weapons, disseminating anti-Nazi propaganda, and exuding a fighting spirit. Later, when Manus is captured by the Germans, he makes not one but two astonishing escapes from the clutches of the Nazis, with his life intact — demonstrating, hands-down, that he has no fear. Following a period of saboteur training in Scotland, Manus — incredibly — slips right back into Norway, and commandeers a mission to sink Nazi supply ships in an Oslo harbor nighttime raid; though successful, it draws nasty acts of vengeance from a psychopathic Gestapo leader Sigfried Fehmer (Ken Duken) — an event that turns Sigfried and Max into arch enemies with the bitterest hatred for one another. Manus’ heroic efforts for the liberation of Norway continue undaunted, however. Thomas Nordseth-Tiller authored the screenplay, reportedly taking a slight degree of liberty with historical facts.
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