TV review: the latest Scandi thriller looking for your attention

Follow the Money comes from Borgen writer Jeppe Gjervig Gram, and its a slow burner with promise

Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Alexander in follow the Money

Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Alexander in follow the Money

 

The new Danish thriller Follow the Money (BBC 4, Saturday), about greed and white-collar crime, gets off to a familiar crime-drama start. On a grey grainy morning (the standard Scandi-crime colour palette), a body is being fished out of the sea near some wind turbines. The local top cop – this being a Danish drama, he’s a low-key, sensitive but still rugged detective – Mads (Thomas Bo Larsen) strips down to his skivvies and dives in to retrieve evidence that’s floating in the water. He quickly establishes that the death is somehow linked to the energy company Evergreen and its dodgy and exploitative employment practices.

While that is going on – the scenes in Follow the Money are as choppy as the North sea – we meet the company’s fit in every way chief executive Alexander (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), a high-profile media performer, adept at selling his company’s green-energy story, and seen in a succession of slick glass-box offices.

But things aren’t as clean in the company as they appear: there is a high-level police fraud investigation on the go (Mads is outside that loop) with a hint that share manipulation is going on. The investigation is brought to the attention of the suave Alexander by the company’s ambitious junior lawyer Claudia (Natalie Madueño Wolfsberg), who he quickly promotes to the top slot, edging out her undermining, sleazy boss. There’s also another key character, a young mechanic and ex-con Nicky (Esben Smed), whose main role so far – it’s episode one of 10, with two shown back to back as an opener – is a bit sketchy.

When the detective joins the dots between the watery death and the young man’s employer, Evergreen, it appears there’ll be a showdown of some sorts with Mads and Alexander – something to thrill fans of Danish arthouse movies as both Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Thomas Bo Larsen are Dogme stars.

But here’s the thing: episode one of Follow the Money is very slow, with a feeling that several plot boxes are being ticked before we can move on. It’s not clear for example why so much time is spent on Mads’ home life (his wife is struggling with MS), or that of small time crim Nicky and his pregnant girlfriend. But then Follow the Money (or Bedgraget in Danish) is created by Jeppe Gjervig Gram, a co-writer on Borgen, who fans of that series will remember was able to make coalition politics in Denmark riveting, edge-of-your-seat stuff. And compared with pig farming in rural Denmark (even that episode of Borgen was fantastic). the world of high finance, steely ambition and the fine line between acceptable corporate activity and regulation-skirting greed should be no bother. This one seems worth sticking around for.

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