Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Johan Falk: The Initial Trilogy
Swedish standards, Johan Falk is practically Dirty Harry. For obvious reasons, he has rather strained
relations with Gothenburg’s top brass.
In fact, he is kind of-sort of forced to take justice kind of-sort of
private in Anders Nilsson’s Johan Falk Trilogy, the first three installments of the Swedish theatrical/straight-to-DVD
franchise, which are now available as a three-DVD set in America from MHz
has no living family. His only friends
are cops. It is also implied he has more
than enough money for his needs. That
does not leave a lot of pressure points for a gangster like Leo Gaut to squeeze
in Zero Tolerance. Not one to follow protocol, Falk drops by
Gaut’s pad to express his disappointment after the murder suspect forces the three
witnesses testifying against him to change their stories. In retrospect, leaving his fingerprints behind
was something of a mistake. Framed for
assaulting Gaut, Falk goes on the lam to clear his name. Easily the weakest of the trilogy, Zero is mostly standard issue Fugitive stuff, but it perks up a bit during
the third act.
Falk is back on the force when Executive
Protection begins, the handwringing commissioner has relegated him to a
future of endless paperwork, despite the protestations of his superior officer,
the ever patient Sellberg. Tired of
cooling his heels, Falk will do what he does best when a childhood friend asks
for his help. Sven Persson had hired
Nikolaus Lehman, a former Stasi agent turned international consultant, to deal
with a protection racket targeting his Estonian factory. Not surprisingly, the cure turns out to be
worse than the disease. Of course, the
cops are incapable of taking preventative action, so Falk signs on with the
private security firm run by his old colleague Mårtenson, to handle Persson’s
well turned crime drama-grudge match, Protection
gives viewers ample opportunity to see Swedes lock and load. It also
features private contractors as the good guys and an old Commie as the bad guy.
As Falk, Jakob Eklund makes a completely credible hard-nosed action
figure. He also broods nicely during
moments of existential angst. Series
screenwriters Nilsson & Joakim Hansson keep the tension building while
establishing several key themes they will revisit in The Third Wave (trailer here).
is Mårtenson who first uses the Toffler-esque term to describe the concerted
campaign of shadowy octopus-like syndicates to secretly acquire legitimate
businesses, but Falk’s former boss Sellberg picks up on it when he is appointed
the EU’s top cop for organized crime.
His get-tough rhetoric attracts the attention of a British banker, whose
abusive husband Kane specializes in facilitating dodgy transactions. Fearing her testimony, Kane’s co-conspirators
send a hit squad after her, but the unsuspecting Falk just happens to be
vacationing in The Hague.
to improvise, Falk will struggle to protect Sellberg’s witness as well as his
girlfriend and her daughter. He will
have some help from Devlin, a British security specialist, who is slightly
disappointed to discover the firm he founded was acquired by a conglomerate
with secret mob ties. Again, Nilsson & Hansson keep the stakes high,
uncorking an early shocker and staging considerable melee during the big
climax, which casts radical WTO protestors in a decidedly negative light.
Falk wears well on Eklund and he gets some effectively
gritty support from British actors Nicholas Farrell (of Chariots of Fire fame) and Prime
Suspect alumnus John Benfield, as Devlin and his chief deputy Stevens,
respectively. Veteran Swedish actor
Lennart Hjulström also lends the entire series some stately gravitas as Sellberg. A solidly entertaining series overall
(especially Protection and Wave), the Johan Falk Trilogy is recommended for fans of both British and
Scandinavian mystery series. Recently
released on DVD from MHz, it is now available for Thanksgiving binge viewing.
Labels: DVD, Johan Falk