Baltasar Kormákur ("Everest") directs Icelandic revenge thriller "The Oath," which finds a protective father turning to bloodshed in order to keep his family safe. Kormákur also stars, delivering a strong performance as Finnur, a respected heart surgeon with a relatively happy life. But conflict comes in the form of his eldest daughter, Anna (Hera Hilmar), who's an addict, unemployed, and has recently fallen in with a shady new boyfriend named Óttar (Gísli Örn Garðarsson). Clearly involved in various criminal activities, and supplying Anna with enough illicit substances to keep her hooked, Óttar is clearly enabling her increasingly erratic and dangerous behavior.
But Anna is an adult in the eyes of the law, so there's only so much help the authorities can provide. And as Finnur watches Anna descend further down a troublesome path, he's willing to go to any lengths to protect get Óttar out of his daughter's life for good.
Finnur's desire to protect his family is only exacerbated by the recent death of his own father, with whom he shared a strained relationship. As his power struggle with Óttar escalates Finnur finds himself abandoning the Hippocratic Oath, and intending to first do plenty of harm.
Working from a script co-written with Ólafur Egilsson, Kormákur maintains a grim tone, while constantly teetering on the edge of the sort of over-the-top action found in Liam Neeson's "Taken" series or something from the oeuvre of Charles Bronson. Instead, the filmmaker aims for something more a bit more challenging, and the result is sometimes uneven, but never less than darkly compelling.
Visit rochestercitynewspaper.com on Friday for additional film coverage, including a review of the romantic comedy "Home Again" starring Reese Witherspoon.