BBC Video // 2012 // 268 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 4th, 2012
Swedish badassery by way of Britain.
Wallander is based on a series of popular novels from Swedish author Henning Mankell. Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh, Much Ado About Nothing) is our hero in this adaptation, a flawed but tenacious investigator who routinely finds himself embroiled in dark, bizarre mysteries. While he navigates these whodunits, Wallander has a turbulent personal life to sift through and -- much the like the victims associated with the crimes he investigates -- nothing ever ends well.
Wallander: Series Three brings three new feature-length (90 minute) mysteries:
An Event in Autumn
Two corpses, seemingly unconnected: the remains of one girl found in Wallander's own back yard, the body of another washed ashore. As Wallander digs (literally), he begins to draw a line between the two deaths. Where his efforts take him is off-putting and disturbing, which is "just another day in Sweden, I guess."
The Dogs of Riga
Two bodies with melted mouths and Mafia ink show up in a raft, and suddenly Wallander is scooped up in a globe-trotting investigation into the inner workings of the Latvian mob. He travels to Riga to track down the murderers and quickly realizes the danger isn't merely limited to the criminals; the authorities might also be involved.
Before the Frost
Wallander's daughter, Linda, needs her father's help. Her friend has gone missing. Wallander begins the search, while a new string of murders reveal themselves: someone has been burning victims alive. Turns out, Linda's friend might be connected to this malfeasance, which in turn is connected to a dangerous cult.
I'm a sucker for these British mystery shows and Wallander deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the best stuff to arrive from across the Atlantic. One common theme I've discovered during my extensive sojourn into Anglophilia is that no matter how innocuous these mysteries might seem, rest assured there is some evil waiting at the end. And this is where Wallander differentiates itself; it's the darkest I've seen. In fact, there's pretty much zero levity at all, from the haunting opening credits all the way to the inevitable creepy conclusion.
Lean, but solid DVD: episodes receive a clean standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby 2.0 Stereo mixes, English SDH subtitles, and no extras.
The stories are compelling enough, but what Wallander has going for it is Kenneth Branagh. The man is obviously an icon and he's the anchor here. Kurt Wallander is a fairly messed-up hombre, giving Branagh plenty of character to sink his teeth into, and he delivers in a big way. His performance alone makes the series required viewing.
Not Guilty. Top-notch acting and execution. A mystery-telling clinic.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 268 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated