Scandinavian crime fiction continues its American invasion with the Henning Mankell adaptation Wallander: The Revenge, originally made for Swedish TV. Considering the Stateside exposure already given to the BBC series in which Kenneth Branagh plays the hero, theatrical prospects here are limited. But fans of the character should appreciate Krister Henriksson's dry take on the role, and will be happy to learn that 13 of his made-for-TV outings will be offered (alongside this one) on VOD and DVD.
Here, the famously downbeat Kurt Wallander has cause to be laconic and bleary-eyed: Most of the tale concerns a 24-hour marathon of police work that begins, inconveniently, at the end of a drunken housewarming party. When saboteurs wipe out power to the whole city of Ystad at the same time someone murders a local bigwig, Wallander's department is thrown into disarray. Not only are civilians clamoring impatiently for info, but his investigation is hindered by a variety of outsiders ranging from the local prosecutor's office to the Swedish army -- not to mention two new cadets whose on-the-job training has just started.
Some scenes involving these outsiders are plagued by stiff acting and a camera that lingers long enough one feels pushed to acknowledge dramatic tension that isn't there. But director Charlotte Brändström is on safer ground with Wallander and his colleagues, who project a believable sense of community. Henriksson in particular hits just the right balance of aloofness and concern.
The politically outspoken Mankell works in some themes about tolerance and War on Terror wrongheadedness (the murder victim sponsored an exhibit of art depicting Muhammad), and the blackout offers a novel backdrop, but on the whole this is a routine mystery tale existing mainly to introduce new characters to the Wallander universe and allow for future installments.
Opens: Friday, June 1 (Music Box Films)
Production Company: Yellow Bird Films
Cast: Krister Henriksson, Lena Endre, Sverrir Gudnason, Nina Zanjani, Mats Bergman, Douglas Johansson, Stina Ekblad, Fredrik Gunnarson, Marianne Mörck
Director: Charlotte Brändström
Screenwriter: Hans Rosenfeldt
Based On Story By Henning Mankell
Producer: Malte Forssell
Executive producers: Ole Søndberg, Anni Faurbye Fernandez, Mikael Wallén, Vibeke Windeløv
Director of photography: Alexander Gruszynski
Production designer: Anna Asp
Costume designer: Kicki Ilander
Editor: Håkan Karlsson
No rating, 90 minutes
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