Terrorists are a pesky bunch, and even though they come from different backgrounds, countries, and religions mothers, we can all agree they share at least one common trait. They’re assholes.
Shooting people or blowing them up because you disagree with their beliefs or ideologies? That’s a dick move. People don’t need to die for the message to be heard. Why can’t terrorists express themselves with acts that leave innocent bystanders still bystanding?
Terrorize the populace with politicized origami. Or editorial cartoons. Or, if you’re a Swedish citizen unhappy with the fascist pigs running your country, maybe you could commit acts of musical terrorism. Welcome to the War On Terror 2.0, welcome to The Sound Of Noise.
Amadeus Warnebring is a tone-deaf cop whose parents are renowned for their musical contributions to society, and younger brother Oscar is a world famous conductor. Amadeus is no fan of music. An odd case comes his way in the form of a TV personality in the hospital for a hernia operation who is wheeled into a room by six people dressed as surgeons who proceed to play his anesthetized body like a percussion instrument. In their defense, the tune they export from his body and the room’s various medical instruments is a real toe-tapper, but the guy does almost die during the third bridge…
Amadeus discovers fliers around town promising a four-part musical of terror… and “Dr. Dr. Gimme Gas In My Ass” was only part one. He immediately sets out to find the perpetrators but discovers the things these miscreants use to make their “music” cease to be audible for him. The abused man from the hospital talks but Amadeus can’t hear him. The bed pan that served as a cymbal makes only silence when slammed against a wall. Others hear these objects fine, and Amadeus still hears everything else fine, but these appropriated instruments have gone permanently silent for him and him alone.
Soon the radical percussionists have taken over a bank after yelling to the patrons, “Nobody move! This is a gig!” The rest of Amadeus’ anti-terrorism unit begins to take notice when a second metronome is found at the scene. Their response ramps up even further after part three of the musical (“Fuck the Music! Kill! Kill!”) results in damaged property and a canceled classical concert. “We’re going to rid this city of musical scum,” says the police chief, and he follows through on the threat by rounding up every street musician and bar band in town.
The Sound Of Noise is a brilliant twist on the conventional in its portrayal of a loner cop on the trail of a group of baddies. It’s not about car chases or gun fights and there’s no life or death moments, but it still excites and entertains with mild absurdities and wonderful surprises. Amadeus is fully fleshed out as a character, and while it would have been nice to see the same for Stella it really is Amadeus’ story. He’s lived a life in the shadows, unable to appreciate society’s most prevalent form of entertainment, but this case, this woman, and this ridiculous act of civil disobedience may yet offer him an audible redemption.
As you can probably tell by now, this movie is all kinds of awesome. Throw in a budding romance between a cop and one of the terrorists, a lead actor who looks like a Swedish Clark Gregg, the oddest non-sequitur involving a car trunk, a naked man, and body paint, and you have a surprisingly original and often beautiful film about finding music in the unlikeliest of places.