What could the death of a five-year-old girl from a brain tumor have to do with the murder of an old criminal and a genetics database? Jar City, a tautly directed Icelandic thriller by director Baltasar Kormákur takes a while to tie all its seemingly disparate pieces together; he gets there with deliberate pacing, circling ever closer to the answers, and when it does get there, it comes together like with a satisfying mental "click" like getting the past piece into a puzzle, or beating Rubik's Cube.
Young father Orn (Atli Rafn Sigurdarson) is devastated when his five-year-old daughter, Kola, dies of a rare brain tumor. Through his work he has access to Iceland's medical genetics database, and, desperate to determine why and how his daughter died of a disease that no one in either side of the family has a genetic history of, he goes hunting for answers.
Meanwhile, in a dark and dingy basement apartment, habitual criminal Holberg (þorsteinn Gunnarsson), once one of a trio of men well-known to police for their illegal enterprising, has turned up dead from a blow to the head by his own ashtray, and detective Erlendur (Ingvar E. Sigurdsson) is on a hunt of his own to find out why. Could Holberg's death be related to his pornography habit and sexual interest in young girls? Or could he have been offed by his old partner, Ellini, who was out on a weekend leave from prison the weekend Holberg suddenly turned up dead?