In crime literature and selvedge denim, Sweden is so hot right now. Thus, Yellow Bird Films, the native production house responsible for the adaptations of The Millennium Trilogy and Wallander, has chosen the sixth book of Liza Marklund’s internationally best-selling Annika Bengtzon series as their first instalment. This may be cause for some regret. Superficially, this has all of the elements of the aforementioned franchises: silvery Scandinavian light, lovely architecture, handsome Nordic people, vaguely Dogma-tic film conventions and a criminal trail piled with red herrings. What it lacks is a flawed, conflicted lead like Salander or Wallander. Bengzton juggles hard-hitting work and motherhood well (usually), is beautiful and tough, fearless and without favour. Crépin handles it all with some mustered spunk, but the script doesn’t provide moral ambivalence for her to explore.
Furthermore, said script is simply a serviceable mystery, without the requisite Scandi-kink for real shock, or invention.
The direction is workmanlike, laying the film out as a stodgy procedural with little panache and, at 90 minutes, leaves not much time to generate creeping thrills or mood. Perhaps a good thing.
Lukewarm Swedish crime thriller sorely lacks the geo-genre’s signature narrative filth-plus-flawed hero.