Wallander: Mastermind (2005)

aka Mankell’s Wallander: Mastermind

2009 #88
Peter Flinth | 96 mins* | TV | 15

Sixth in the series of Wallander films starring Krister Henriksson as the titular Swedish detective, though only the second to be released theatrically.

Mastermind works to earn its status as a theatrical release, everyone upping their game to provide something more filmic than the other direct-to-DVD entries in the series. That’s not to say the other films in the series are bad — they’re certainly as well-produced as any other detective series on TV — but this episode seems to have been constructed from the outset with an eye on a standalone cinema release, rather than just randomly plucking an episode from the thirteen produced to receive such an honour.

From the start (literally) there are slicker opening titles, and longer end credits to bookend that. The direction is flashier too — still grounded in reality, unlike the heavily-stylised British Wallander, but with more filmic shot choices and editing. Take, for example, the Rear Window-inspired scene where Wallander looks out over the adjacent block of flats while listening to classical music that completely fills the soundtrack — not the kind of sequence you tend to find in TV drama. On-going subplots from the series go unreferenced — there’s no need to have seen a single other episode to follow the story without a hitch.

The main plot’s on a bigger scale — a serial murderer who has eyes and ears inside the police department — and This Time It’s Personal for good measure, with the villain targeting friends and family and (spoiler) a past connection to several characters. It’s not a realistic-scale case-of-the-week, but a once-in-a-career unusual case, the kind of plot that graces serial killer films (Se7en comes to mind, obviously) in a way those case-of-the-week plots rarely do. It stretches credibility a little, as these types of tale often do, which does at times leave it feeling a tad out of place in Wallander’s grounded world, which is usually about more realistic murders rather than megalomaniac super-powerful serial killers. Still, it ups the ante appropriately, making the events more action-packed and conforming to the theory that films should never have a “just another day at the office”-style plot.

With the extra effort afforded to make this series instalment appropriately cinematic, the Wallander team achieve their aim and produce one of the stand-out of all thirteen films. That said, some viewers of the whole series may find it a bit OTT when compared to the series’ regular style.

4 out of 5

* The running time is listed as 102 minutes on IMDb, but 96 is taken directly from the BBC’s iPlayer.

(Originally posted on 14th February 2010.)

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