Sweden remains a quite sparsely populated country with a good deal of open space. This is excellently exploited in this three-part series set in the province of Skane in the southwest of Sweden. Some of the cinematography is Bergmanesque, capturing the bleak beauty of the region.
Each program begins with the musical theme "Nostalgia", sung with affecting sadness by Emily Barker of the group Red Clay Halo from Australia.
As a provincial detective with personal issues, Branagh captures the Scandinavian melancholy like a junior Max von Sydow--lengthy silences, expressions full of pain suffusing his baby face. Like any Shakespearian, he's also got a great voice, full of subtleties and surprising power. The supporting roles are well played by a strong British cast.
This middle program deals with a terrifying conspiracy of international proportions and with some of the travails of mundane life. Several absurd coincidences unfortunately hinder suspension of disbelief. There also is a surprising amount of violence, with several murders, a mutilation and much blood. Branagh's Det. Wallander carries a pistol--a powerful 9mm SIG-Sauer--but he isn't much good at using it, not at least in this episode. In one scene he fires blindly into a thick fog, trying to stop a fleeing automobile. This is useless and probably against regulations.
The action speeds up to a conclusion that mixes success and tragedy in nearly equal proportions.