More Scandinavian thrills and spills in False Trail, the sequel to Jägarna, one of Sweden’s biggest ever hits back in 1996. Retitled for the overseas market, this forgoes its predecessor’s uninspiring original name, Jägarna 2, in the likely bid to cash in on the current wave of crime genres coming out of the region. Thankfully this polished thriller fits right in, with the added gloss of Peter Stormare (Fargo, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) returning to his native roots.
Director Kjell Sundvall has also craftily presented this without the need to watch the first film, as enough backstory is intermittently revealed through flashbacks of our main protagonist Erik, played by Rolf Lassgård. He’s a Stockholm inspector and we see enough to know that he is a lonely soul, tormented by his past.
This is made all the more personal when he is called to his hometown to investigate a murder of a local woman. He immediately clashes with Torsten (Peter Stormare), one of the local cops, who also happens to be the stepdad of his nephew. Erik goes by the book, uncovering the truth behind the killing, as well as reacquainting him with his estranged family – linking them together in a way he and the community could never have imagined.
The storyline is something straight out of The Killing, and the opening scene is shot almost like for like of the first episode, but on a bigger budget. The gorgeous backdrops are in stark contrast to the brutality of the crime and you can sense the simmering tension between our two leads slowly building to a head. Credit to the wealth of experience the actors bring.
Rolf Lassgård gives an assured and understated performance, while Peter Stormare displays acting prowess with intensity unseen in any of his Hollywood films since he first got our attention in Fargo. This makes you wonder why he continues to play one-dimensional foreign bad guys. Sadly though, he also plays to type here, which is just as well considering it’s not really a ‘whodunit’ film. Ultimately, it’s the films downfall.
Once you find out halfway through the film that he has the town on a tight leash with his bullyboy ways of policing, there’s not much intrigue left. Normally that’s fatal in any type of crime-thriller. There’s also a fair few plot-holes, but Sundvall’s accomplished directing in capturing the intense showdowns between Erik and Torsten against the striking landscapes means you can almost overlook how they got to the long-winded ending. Almost.
Brimming with taut atmosphere and stunning cinematography, False Trail is sadly let down by a conventional conclusion of a lagging never-ending chase to bring the killer to justice. This ‘Nordic Noir’ does not reach the heights it could have, but that’s still better the trash Hollywood throws out – especially the ones with Stormare in it.
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