IN HIS RECENT FLICK Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino gleefully embraces a clear-cut, good guys vs. bad guys vision of World War II, allowing for a vicarious revenge fantasy in which American soldiers don't experience so much as a moment's hesitation before skinning the scalps off of live German soldiers. The title characters in the Danish film Flame and Citron are equally unambiguous in their moral convictions, which boil down to a bumper sticker: The Only Good Nazi Is a Dead Nazi. Where Inglourious Basterds takes a cowboys and Indians approach to the business of killin' Nazis, hard-nosed Flame (Thure Lindhardt) and his squirrelly partner Citron (Mads Mikkelsen) are more Al Capone than John Wayne, owing their methods (and their fedoras) to the gangsters of the 1930s.
Flame and Citron were members of the Danish Resistance—which is a polite way of saying that they were assassins, executing Nazi propagandists and collaborators, and sabotaging the efforts of the Nazi forces that occupied Denmark after 1940. "I forgot that we're not killing people, but Nazis," Flame says at one point, explaining why he found himself unable to shoot a woman. (The next time he experiences qualms about killing a lady, he resolves them by covering her face with his hand before he shoots her.)
The Resistance is a secretive, loosely organized group, and its integrity is soon thrown into question. There's an informant in their midst, Flame and Citron are told, and it's only a matter of time before they're betrayed—maybe by their boss, maybe by their friends, maybe by Flame's beautiful, mysterious girlfriend.
Though writer/director Ole Christian Madsen lurches into moralizing territory at times (the phrase "I was just following orders" is never uttered, but it might as well be), the film's emphasis is largely on Flame and Citron's struggle to kill bad guys while staying one step ahead of their enemies—and as tension ratchets toward its inevitable conclusion, Flame and Citron proves an effectively action-packed espionage joint.