Scandinavian skulduggery leads the way this week’s batch of sequels, threequels and reboots.
The Bridge is the critically acclaimed Danish-Swedish co-production that has spawned multiple re-makes across the world. The drama was set in motion back in 2011 when Sofia Helin first starred as socially awkward Swedish detective Saga Noren, who is forced to work with her Danish counterpart, Martin Rohde, (Kim Bodnia) after the discovery of a dead body on the Øresund Bridge, which connects the two countries.
In The Bridge – The Complete Season Three (Arrow Films) Saga once again partners-up with a Danish officer – this time the equally troubled Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt) – as they unravel a series of disturbing murders, each of which sees the killer arrange the bodies of well-known left-wing figures in increasingly sinister tableaux. The elaborate crime scenes are seemingly designed to reinforce the ‘traditional’ family values that are perceived to be falling by the wayside in Scandinavia, and send shockwaves through the two countries. Meanwhile, Saga is also wading through the toxic fallout of the previous season, and battling against her own private demons.
Scandinavian cop-shows come and go, but The Bridge remains as exciting as it ever was. The issues brought to the fore by the killer’s actions feel dangerously contemporary, and the interplay between Saga and Henrik carries a real charge. Saga, as brought to life by Sofia Helin, is a tremendous creation, and the character’s appealing quirks appear undimmed by repeated viewings of the show. Returning viewers can rest assured that the quality of the series is as high as ever – despite the change in personnel – but if you have yet to experience The Bridge’s unique charms, then you are in for a real treat. This is a seriously classy cop-show.
Just Jim (Soda Pictures) is the directorial debut from 24-year-old Welsh actor Craig Roberts, who is probably best known for his role in Richard Ayoade’s cult 2010 movie Submarine. Roberts stars as the title character, a lonely Welsh teenager, stranded in a small town where nothing exciting ever happens. Everything changes, however, when Dean (Emile Hirsch), a mysterious American, moves in to the house next door. Dean is older, good-looking, and gives Jim’s credibility an immediate boost. But when it becomes apparent that Dean is hiding a dark secret, Jim is forced to question if his newfound popularity is worth the trouble he is getting dragged into.
Just Jim, which was also scripted by Roberts, is a quirky little dark comedy, albeit one that is too uneven to be truly satisfying. Emile Hirsch excels as Dean – who comes across as a ‘50s reboot of Tyler Durden – while Roberts himself slips comfortably into the hapless emotional punch-bag role. Perhaps understandably, the shadow of the career-making Submarine looms large over Roberts’ debut. With a better script – or the help of a savvy collaborator – Roberts will be better placed to turn his neat ideas into indie movie gold.
The Transporter: Refuelled (Icon) is a lukewarm reboot of the enjoyably daft action franchise that helped make Jason Statham a household name. With Statham now plying his trade in Hollywood, Ed Skrein – an actor best known for being abruptly ditched as Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones – slips into the role of ex-special forces hard-case Frank Martin. When he is blackmailed by a group of sexy would-be thieves into helping them bring down a Russian human trafficking operation, Frank is thrust back into a violent world that he thought he had left behind. Stripped of Statham’s cartoonish skull-cracking menace, the film feels slight, and struggles to match the previous instalments. Ray Stevenson (Rome, Punisher: War Zone) is a welcome addition to the cast (as Frank’s father), but the film feels weirdly stale – especially for a reboot. Watchable, but underwhelming.
Further down the franchise spiral is Sinister 2 (eOne), the inevitable sequel to the enjoyable 2012 horror flick. Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon, The Rules of Attraction) and her twin boys, Zach and Dylan, have moved into a seemingly idyllic secluded old house in an attempt to start a new life away from her violent partner. Unfortunately for them, the building has a secret: it is the scene of a gruesome ritualistic murder which bears a striking resemblance to a series of family slayings that have taken place over the past fifty years. A private detective (James Ransone) investigating the recent massacre of a famous author and his family (as depicted in the first movie) is led to Courtney and her children, whom he believes will be the next victims. There are some decent scares to be had, but the narrative is illogical for the most part, and the attempt to flesh out the mythology behind the Bughuul seems unnecessary. Stick to the original, as this rehash is a pale imitation.