False Trail/Jagarna 2
Directed by Kjell Sundvall. Starring Peter Stormare, Rolf Lassgård, Annika Nordin, Kim Tjernström, Eero Milonoff 16 cert, limited release, 125 min
What else can we say about the Scandinavian crime thriller? There are a lot of them about. They have a great deal to do with drunks. They rarely end happily.
This efficient, if unremarkable, Swedish addition to the canon meets all the expectations. A grubby crime stirs up all kinds of horrid secrets in a town built almost entirely from peeling planks. Men in heavy coats stomp about the place and – somewhat too slowly – happen upon a sordid solution.
False Trail feels like a superior episode of a TV series, and it transpires that the picture, whose original title translates as The Hunters 2, is sequel to a thriller from distant 1996.
Erik Backstrom (Rolf Lassgård), a detective based in Stockholm, is summoned to his hometown in northern Sweden to investigate the disappearance of a young woman. A very Nordic class of lunatic – all matted hair and death metal – has been implicated, but our hero quickly locates holes in the case. The situation is complicated by the fact that the hardest police officer in town (the super Peter Stormare) is Backstrom’s brother-in-law. Before too long they’re scowling at one another over the freshly shot venison.
Lassgård is best known as the original Kurt Wallander, and he brings the same degree of wind-blasted cynicism to Backstrom. The Nordic thriller – like 1940s film noir – has its own unique class of seediness: wooden shack for oyster-shell motel; rotten parka for belted mackintosh. Nobody looks as if he or she has had enough sleep. Everybody seems worn down by the long nights.
Strong atmosphere and top-flight acting are, however, not quite all you need for an effective mystery thriller. False Trail takes far too long to get to a destination that’s signposted about an hour into the action. Oh, and don’t bother trying to guess the sideswiping narrative twist. There isn’t one.