Pusher III: I Am The Angel of Death (2005)

Like with musicians, artists, and rockers, drug dealers too have an age-limit when they’ve gone way past their prime.

Milo (Zlatko Burić), the Serbian drug lord from the first two Pusher films, is here once again but this time, a little screwed up in the head with what he wants to do with his life. Taking place over one day and night, we see as Milo struggles with being the father-figure that his daughter deserves, getting out of the drug-game, staying away from the actual drugs themselves, and being able to stay alive long enough in his line of business where he can retire and settle down happily and safely. But it’s the 21st Century, and Milo doesn’t quite have the gas nor the power to really keep up with the rest of the world and stay happy and healthy at the same time, which makes it even harder for him to stay afloat without using a little bit of extra fluids on the side, if you know whatta mean?

So here it is, the final installment of the long, 9-year-spanning Copenhagen crime trilogy from Nicolas Winding Refn and in all honesty, it couldn’t have been any more different. Rather than making this movie another flick where it’s all about drugs, crime, killing, stealing, and doing lines of blow non-stop until the cows come home, Refn keeps things subtle and subdued, and also turns the whole genre on it’s head. Case in point, the first scene where we actually see Milo, the powerful drug lord he once was and still thinks he is, actually talking about his drug-habit in a Drugs Anonymous meeting, where everybody talks about how they are trying to stay away from the drugs and kick the urge altogether, whereas Milo can’t do either because, well, he’s a drug-dealer. It’s almost like a comedy in and of itself, but Refn plays it with enough sincerity to where you see why Milo can’t leave the world he’s beginning to hate, but why it’s also starting to take a toll in him.

The "slicked-back hair, gangster look" was so 1996.
The “slicked-back hair, gangster look” was so 1996.

Anybody that’s expecting a tight, suspense-filled movie like the first two may be a little bit upset with this flick since it’s a whole lot different in it’s view of the drug-world. Yes, it’s still dangerous, sinister, and unapologetic, but like with the rest of the world, it’s beginning to change where the old saying “in with the new, out with the old” is still relevant. I never thought I’d see this in the trilogy where Refn doesn’t seem to be glamorizing the underground drug world, but also doesn’t seem to be hating on it either, but it’s a nice change-of-pace for a trilogy that seemed like it needed on. Cause let’s face it: We were all getting a bit tired of the same old, story of druggies who don’t like drugs and don’t like their worlds they’ve brought themselves into, but yet, can’t get away from it either.

Then again, that’s sort of what this story is all about too, it just feels like it has a smaller-scope where we understand the character’s actions and reasoning for doing the things that they do, and why. Milo is the type of character that seemed to have had it all in the first two flicks, where he was not only looked on as the most powerful man in the business, but one you did not want to screw over by any means. Nowadays, he’s being screwed over left and right, and nobody seems to want to do anything about it neither. He’s almost sort of become something of a joke and it’s a little sad to see, especially because you know that there’s a good heart and soul underneath Milo’s look, it just rarely ever comes out when it needs in the most dire situations.

However, something about this movie didn’t feel too right with me in the way that it treated it’s protagonists drug-habits. I get that he’s a drug addict that’s finding it harder and harder to get away from, but after awhile, I thought it got old and went a little too far, almost to the point of where the flick needed that as a crutch to fall back on so that we could feel more sympathy for Milo and everything bad that was happening, and about to happen to him. We’ve all seen this story time and time again, and hell, even in the same, last two flicks, but here, it felt manipulative, as if Milo’s inner-struggle to escape the hole he’s dug himself into wasn’t enough. That aspect of the story alone was enough for me to feel compelled, but the drug addict-approach, as refreshing as it was to get in a flick such as this, still felt like it was only another add-on for us to feel more sympathy for the dude, as if we didn’t have enough already.

And I think where most of that sympathy comes from is in the way that Zlatko Burić’s plays this character in such a smart and brilliant way, that you almost forget all of the bad shite that he was doing in the first and second one. Burić was probably the most memorable aspect of the 2nd flick, and had me charmed and smiling, despite him being on the screen for less than 5 minutes. But still, it was enough to have me realize that I liked this character and could even see myself watching a whole movie, just dedicated to him and what he’s up to. That’s exactly what we get to see here and it never gets old because Burić still has everything in-place that he had from the first two movies, just with more of a rugged look and feel to him.

"You mean to tell me you don't know what a record is?
“[English Translation] You mean to tell me you don’t know what a record is?”
Milo’s obviously been in the drug game for quite some time now, and it’s beginning to become a stretch for him. And even though most of us would try to find our ways to run away from any type of bad situation or equation we may find ourselves, sadly, Milo cannot. He’s already too deep in this shit, to ever escape. All he has to do now is stay strong, calm, and remember who he is. However, that aspect of Milo’s character is changing, and he’s starting to show a softer-side to his character now and Burić is amazing in that aspect. There’s a look of pain and frustration on his face throughout the whole movie, whether he’s waiting for his 60 deep fried fish he ordered, or contemplating whether or not he wants to take a smoke of heroin that he was just offered.

Whatever the situation is that he finds himself in, Burić is always compelling to watch and leaves you off with a note that has you contemplate whether or not he gets out of the world he’s gotten tired of and stays happy, or, simply gets dragged back into the world, where his agony and pain only continues on and on and on. Once again, we are left to ponder these questions, but with a larger idea in our mind that maybe Milo doesn’t have the jewels to stick by his word anymore, and might just give up. Then again, that’s speculation as we may never, ever know. And I’m very fine with that.

Consensus: With it’s more subdued-approach, some may be surprised by how different Pusher III is from the two other flicks in the trilogy, but that still makes it a more compelling, insightful look into the world of a drug kingpin who had it all, and still does, but doesn’t want it anymore and only wants a life where he can sit down, relax, and settle in peace and quiet, something he may never, ever get thanks to no one but himself.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

It's been 9 years since we last saw him, and he still looks like the lead singer of Right Said Fred.
It’s been 9 years since we last saw him, and he still looks like the lead singer of Right Said Fred.


  1. Easily the best of the three Pusher films. What’s next? “Bronson”, “Valhalla Rising”, “Bleeder”, “Fear X”?

  2. It’s so weird because I didn’t think Zlatko Burić would be able to carry this film without Madds. I was wrong in every way. My review of all these films is coming out in a few weeks. You’ll see that we had pretty much the same take on all three. well done man.

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