Henning Mankell wrote a dozen novels featuring Swedish detective Kurt Wallander between 1991 and 2009, and he sure did get a lot of mileage out of them. There was a series of Swedish TV movies from 1994 to 2007, starring Rolf Lassgard. Then there was another Swedish TV series from 2005 to 2013, starring Krister Henriksson. As if that weren’t enough, there is this BBC production, shot in Sweden, from 2008 and continuing right on to this year, 2016, starring Kenneth Branagh. Not even James Bond has had that many iterations.
I’m afraid this is another case of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The English remake was just okay. If I hadn’t seen the Swedish version, I might have liked it a little better, but since I had read the books I was far from wild about it. But everything about the Swedish version was miles and miles better than the American one, mostly due to the fantastic performances by Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, and Michael Nyqvist as Kalle Bloomkvist. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara were pale imitations.
We watched three of them, and began to get impatient with Branagh as the Swedish police detective. The angst was so thick I could hardly breathe. The cop was so obsessive he never seemed to sleep, and suffered, suffered, suffered. He can’t answer a simple question without agonizing in silence for ten or fifteen seconds. He is a terrible cop, always haring off alone on one of his hunches, getting into situations he could have avoided if only he had called for backup. Some scenes were just flat-out silly. I was getting damned tired of it, so for a change of pace we switched over to the Swedish version, also available on Netflix (except, for some reason, the first season). For my review of that go to Henning Mankell’s Wallander. You’ll be glad you did.