It has taken over two years for Charlotte Brandstrom’s Wallander: The Revenge to gain theatrical distribution in the U.S., and it has been worth the wait. The Swedish film is a continuation of the highly successful novels written by Henning Mankell that feature the main character Kurt Wallander, a Swedish police detective. Instead of merely adapting one of the published novels, a fete that has been done to nearly all of them, Mankell created thirteen new stories featuring Wallander, starting with The Revenge being released theatrically and the following twelve episodes will be released on VOD and DVD, all with a running time of 90 minutes.
The Revenge begins with Wallander celebrating his lifelong dream of owning a house by the water, in a relatively small and quiet suburban city, Ystad, Sweden. The opening sequence follows two simultaneous events, the small gathering of friends at Wallander’s home and in stark contrast a hooded figure making his way in the dark, setting bombs at the city’s power plant, resulting in a climactic explosion. Perfectly executed, and meticulously edited, the dichotomy of the two different atmospheres sets a requisite tone for the rest of the film. The idyllic nature of the city of Ystad being overrun with terror, a concept that will leave them panicked and desperate for answers as the case to find the hooded figure responsible for the act of terror develops. Blowing up a power plant is not the only offense that lends Wallander to investigate; multiple murders are also occurring one after another, and piecing together how everything is connected is the mystery that develops quickly in The Revenge. At a mere 90 minutes things move quickly, but not in a fashion of being rushed or glanced over. There is not a great deal of character development, and those unfamiliar with the man Kurt Wallander will be left curious as to his background but the curiosity is overtaken by the case itself.
The case, not the characters per se, is the main focus in The Revenge, and the film prospers because of this choice. Developments and events occur in perfect sequence, leaving little room or need for needless exposition or additional storylines. Hints at personal relationships and motivations are consistently made, but never elaborated upon. Characters are left with their own mysteries, set-up to clearly evolve over the course of the thirteen episodes as one, not solely in The Revenge. The respective outcome in The Revenge is solely a crime thriller that never veers from its original purpose: to set-up, investigate, and solve a mystery while being led by the interesting enough but not overwhelming personality of Kurt Wallander.
While the crimes themselves lend an engrossing narrative, additional thematic elements create a deeper mentality to the entire film. The initial reaction that the acts are those of terrorism by an Arab group of extremists angry over a recent exhibition featuring Mohammad perpetuates the state of fear a country exists with in the modern era. The idea that it may be one of their own, an inhabitant of the peaceful city of Ystad is unfathomable to most, albeit except Wallander. Small jabs at the other officials investigating the case are a clear judgment on the near-sided gaze of government. Additionally, points are made in regards to religious beliefs, states of urgency and those that are not, and feminism in modern-day Sweden. The Revenge plays simply enough as a crime thriller but carefully builds layers showcasing deeper meanings and areas for analysis.
As the first part in a thirteen story arc The Revenge is a taut thriller that leaves a viewer engaged, and eagerly awaiting the final outcome of the case as well as what awaits Wallander in the episodes that will follow. The novels began the story of Kurt Wallander over twenty-five years ago, and the newest collection of episodic films promise to keep the character alive, and audiences grasping to solve additional cases, with every passing minute on screen.
The Revenge begins with Kurt Wallander celebrating his 62nd birthday, having achieved his lifelong dream of purchasing a house by the sea. Suddenly, a heavy explosion disrupts the peace and quiet in Ystad, knocking out the town’s lone power transformer. When more explosions follow, the military is called in and the little town starts to look like a war zone. Are the explosions acts of sabotage? Or terrorism directed at a local Islamic exhibition? Everything is in chaos as Wallander navigates through the darkness to track down the culprits.
STARRING: KRISTER HENRIKSSON, LENA ENDRE, SVERRIR GUDNASON, NINA ZANJANI, MATS BERGMAN, DOUGLAS JOHANSSON, STINA EKBLAD, FREDRIK GUNNARSON, AND MARIANNE MÖRCK
BASED ON STORY BY HENNING MANKELL
SCRIPTWRITER: HANS ROSENFELDT
EDITOR: HÅKAN KARLSSON
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: ALEXANDER GRUSZYNSKI ASC
PRODUCER: MALTE FORSSELL
DIRECTOR: CHARLOTTE BRÄNDSTRÖM