Having missed the fuss surrounding "Wallander", "The Killing" and "The Bridge", I decided not to overlook this latest two-part thriller from Sweden, as much as to see what the fuss over Scandinavian crime programmes was about.
Well, I got some, but not all of it. The acting and cinematography was certainly good, the writing and characterisation less so. The title character is a well-known and formerly accomplished criminal profiler, who has gone to seed following the death of his young son in a tsunami. His friendship with the chief of police brings him an opportunity to get his career back on track, as he's firstly thrown into the case of the mysterious murder of a young student and then, after wrapping that up, becomes the target of an obsessive serial- killer he put away years before.
To tell the truth though, I didn't get the connection between the two stories at all, the overall production seeming like two separate programmes spliced together. The first story was much better written, the various suspects all shown in the act of the boy's murder, cleverly subverting the staple device of the flashback. The second story was incredibly contrived, not only the imprisoned murderer's M.O. but also the linking of the victims to Bergman via his womanising past. Throw in an even more extraordinary coincidence regarding the young female detective who reluctantly finds herself teamed up with him and a conclusion right out of Hollywood and you can see that after a vaguely promising start, it barely limped over the finishing-line.
It doesn't help that the woman-hungry, charmless and boorish Bergman attracts no sympathy at all in the viewer. It's one thing to give the lead in a cop drama unusual traits but not the character defects of the poor man's "Cracker" we get here and his convenient and done-to-death remembrance of the loss of his son pulverises the nut with a two-ton hammer. At the same time, the level of coincidence required to pull together the second story is just too far-fetched to stand up to reasonable expectation.
No, I was quite disappointed with this sour, gloomy, humourless programme, right down to the often funereal background music used to unnecessarily exaggerate the portentousness here.
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