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Review: Glum sleuth Kurt Wallander adds wry depth to 'The Revenge'

The TV episode, based on Henning Mankell's novels, opens theatrically.

June 08, 2012|By Robert Abele, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Kurt Wallander (Krister Henriksson), left, and Nyberg (Mats Bergman) in "Wallander: The Revenge."
Kurt Wallander (Krister Henriksson), left, and Nyberg (Mats Bergman)… (Music Box Films, Music Box…)

After Swedish author Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander novels became beloved detective stories but before Kenneth Branagh starred in English-language TV versions of the books, two series of television episodes featuring the character were made in Sweden.

One of these 90-minute installments, translated in English as "The Revenge," has been released theatrically in America, although its enjoyment level remains strictly that of something you'd cozy up to at home on the couch: hardly cinematic but economically steered by director Charlotte Brandstrom.

A stubbly, kind-faced Krister Henriksson brings wry, understated weariness to Mankell's melancholy sleuth, called in to investigate a politician's execution-style murder on the night of an explosion-caused blackout. When the crime seems connected to a controversial, Muslim-protested art exhibit about Mohammed, terrorism paranoia and racial tensions flair, leading to an imposed military presence.

Wallander stays focused and even finds time to flirt with a new-in-town fellow investigator (Lena Endre).

Though the wrapping-up is more surface-tense than psychologically rich — Mankell is story-credited, but the film is not based on any of the books — "The Revenge" is a smooth-enough entertainment that should appeal to Wallander completists and aficionados of the cresting wave of Scandinavian crime stories.

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