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BECK -- REVENGE.(Review) (movie review)
Author/s: Gunnar Rehlin
Issue: July 9, 2001
BECK -- REVENGE (BECK -- HAMNDENS PRIS) (SWEDEN -- DENMARK)
A Columbia TriStar (Sweden) release (in Sweden) of a Filmlance Intl. (Sweden)/Per Holst Film (Denmark ) production, in association with TV4 (Sweden), TV2 (Norway), with participation of DR (Denmark), MTV (Finland) and Canal Plus. (International sales: Egmont Film, Copenhagen). Produced by Lars Blomgren, Borje Hansson. Executive producers, Thomas Lydholm, Peter Bose, Ole Sondberg, Lars Duus. Directed by Kjell Sundvall. Screenplay, Rolf & Cecilia Borjlind, based on characters created by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. Camera (color), Olof Johnson; editon Thomas Tang; music, Adam Norden; art director, Lasse Westfelt; costume designer, Katja Watkins; sound (Dolby SR), Ljudligan. Reviewed at Columbia TriStar screening room, Stockholm, May 4, 2001. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 89 MIN. With: Peter Haber, Mikael Persbrandt, Sophie Tolstoy, Marie Goransson, Ingvar Hirdwall, Rebecka Hemse, Shanti Roney, Matti Berenett, Martin Aliaga, Jimmy Endeley, Marten Klingberg, Peter Huttner, Fredrik Myrberg, Anders Bystrom, Ingela Olsson, Johan Kustus.
The first in a new series of films centered on Stockholm cop Martin Beck, "Beck -- Revenge" is above all a showcase for excellent thesp Mikael Persbrandt as the title character's short-fused colleague. B.O. in Sweden is likely to be quite OK, while in most other Euro countries the movie will probably end up on the small screen. The original 10 Beck novels were written by radical authors Mai Sjowall and Per Wahloo in the '60s and '70s. Combining a realistic depiction of police procedures with a highly critical look at capitalist society, the books were very successful. Most have been turned into films, with such diverse actors as Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt (in Bo Widerberg's superior "The Man on the Roof"), Walter Matthau, Derek Jacobi and Gosta Ekman playing Beck. A few years ago, author Rolf Borjlind, with the permission of Sjowall (Wahloo died many years ago), started to write new Beck stories, moving the characters and plots into the '90s. Eight films were made from them, two for cinemas and six for TV; Peter Haber played Beck and Persbrandt played his colleague, Gunvald Larsson. "Beck -- Revenge" is the first in a new series of eight, with the first and last skedded for theatrical release. Pic starts with an armed robbery that quickly turns ugly when the robbers have a chance encounter with a couple of policemen. When one officer, Leif Gudmunsson (Anders Bystrom), recognizes one of the robbers, Dag Sjoberg (Shanti Roney), Sjoberg coldly executes both unarmed cops. Detective Gunvald Larsson and Gudmunsson were old friends and planned to go on a vacation trip together. When the news of the murders reaches him, the temperamental Larsson promises he'll hunt the guilty man down and kill him like a dog. Larsson goes berserk, violently beating up those he believes to be part of what happened. Beck has to take Larsson off the in vestigation -- but in good revenge movie tradition, Larsson continues on his own.
Helmer Kjell Sundvall ("The Hunters," "The Last Contract") handles the action sequences well, making them violent but not gratuitously so, and overall the film is fast, snappy and believable. Apart from a very cheesy looking explosion, effects are OK. In the title role, Haber this time has to take a seat behind Persbrandt (most recently seen in Colin Nutley's "Gossip"), who combines his tough guy persona and charisma in a completely natural way. Not many other actors could have carried off the finale -- where he's forced to strip down to his underwear -- without losing his dignity.


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