tisdag 29 mars 2016


Previously on Johan falk:

"Next time on Johan Falk-series: part 8: The one with the russian title I never can remember. "

Shit. Sometimes I  mix the titles up. This and  Organizatsija Karayan. (I had to look that title up and check my spelling for every damn word).  Operation Näktergal  is also one I kind of regard as a lesser  entry in the series. But later events in the series makes this a pivotal chapter in the Johan Falk-saga, And therefore even more important to examine in the interest of Falkology.

Plot talking:

This story centres around human trafficking and prostitutes from the Baltic countries. One of the GSI members, Lasse (Henric Norlén) gets a shot at doing what Johan has been doing for a while; being a handler for an informant. It all goues tits up in the end, which set in motion  a spiral of events unbeknownst to neither GSI or the audience for that matter. 

A lot of the stuff that comes back I will deal with more scrutiny when we come to Lockdown, the next to the very last film. But that is still a helluva long  way to go.

What this movie specifically deals with are personal connections to the individuals stuck in an impossibly dangerous situation. But also extreme unprofessionalism as Lasse falls in love with the female informant Hanna (Anja Antonowicz) , and the tragic events that follows.  She dies, and Lasse sets up a situation which leads to his revenge. More unprofessional and not so great policing at work here. A bunch of GSI cockups. But at this point, who is surprised?

Jibber jabber:

So, the big thing here is that this movie is central to the events that takes place in the third series. It sets up the motivation behind some of the stuff and frankly I think it might be better to wait until Lockdown to fully delve into those aspects. What I instead want to focus on  here is the relationship between Lasse and Hanna .

Lasse has had some dating issues on account of being a cop. He is just too damn frank about it and his collegues questions his judgement on it. "Why do you keep telling the birds you´re a cop,man?" Now being a handler to the polish girl Hanna, she knows he is a cop and probably wont hold it aginst him if he is being nice to her. But he may be too nice to her and ends up getting a bit too close to her. Johan is usually the one we see handling the informant, now that Lasse gets a chance he blows it big time by falling in love with her. Dumbshit. Both Lasse and Johan. Dumbshits. Here is how they both are;

Interestingly, Sophie who is the new temporary leader for GSI, who Johan has a lot of problem taking orders from, doesn´t want Lasse to be a handler as he has no previous experience. But Johan chose to disobey and pick Lasse anyway.  Stubborn asshole. His reluctance of taking orders from Sophie is something that has been portrayed in a couple of films now that Patrik has parentleave.

As Lasse is the focus of the story  it puts former supercop Falk in a situation in which he has to choose how to deal with a sensitive situation that could seriously damage a fellow police officers career. And you could make a case that Johan is to blame for the whole mess as he never saw the bigger picture if he just did what Sophie ordered him to do in the first place.

I like how the first movies Falk was this invincible badass supercop. But now that he is put in a different world he becomes this flawed human being incapable of dealing with the world he now inhabits. He usually have been in full control, but from the first series and one he makes some choices that clearly is not made by some omniscient protagonist that saves the day. At the end he confesses that he may have  made the wrong decision. A decision that was never his to make as he was not in charge, but Sophie was. Here we can see Johans one-man army tactics from previous movies, but here it failed flat as he is maybe out of his league when it comes to this type of police work. I don´t know. But he should have listened to Sophie. God help us if Johan Falk makes Chief rank....

A recurring motif in the series seem to be about failure to get the bad guy. Once again, the bad guy  gets killed, and it becomes a snag in a way. Like in National Target. Which is something I like. Shit not going as planned

There is also some shenanigans with Johan convincing Anja to leave his clandestine operations alone. If I were her, I would have gotten sick of getting all that shit from him by now and tell him to go fuck himself.

(Small personal rant with some more foul language):

I just can´t stand that asshole who orders "beer". Just beer. For him it does not matter as long as it is beer. As a beer lover I can´t defend that ignorant shit. He probably wouldn´t care if it´s Kopparbergs Special brew ( a Swedish  beer  with 10 % alcohol that taste like horses ass)  Oh yeah, No surprise he is the bad guy of this piece. A sleazy scrawny ass cheap knock off-Viggo Mortensen lookalike  kind of motherfucker. 
"Hallo, I am russian asshole who does not care for beer.
Also I am sleazy. Please do not have sex with me"
(end of rant)

This is my favourite part. Lasse and Hanna both have polish backstory. Hanna is raised catholic, not Lasse however as he is raised in Sweden. There is a connection between these two that is pretty sweet, as they have completely different upbringings that sets them apart.  Different religious backgrounds and beliefs. Lasse doesn´t believe in this heaven and hell mumbo jumbo and gets shit in return from Hanna; " So you don´t believe in anything?" To which Lasse responds " I believe in crime and punishment".  The dance continues and Hanna counters with " An eye for an eye? That is very Old Testament"   After that Lasse  has a hard time convincing anyone else but himself. Lasse sees punishment, she sees redemption for what she has done. Good scene. The policeman´s narrow view of crime, never taking in account the persons behind it. Not always bad guy, but humans with reasons behind their actions.

Interesting how the cop seem less sure of himself than she does. That makes you think. Look at these shots.

Hanna seem to be the first woman Lasse truly connect with for some reason, which make this interesting.

The death of  Hanna makes Lasse  take matters into his own hands and sets up the bad guy who killed her just to get revenge, when GSI is clearly after bigger fish. Wow, this organization really does fuck up in more ways than one. This is like CTU in 24. More bombs goes off than  prevented. But here it´s even worse. How many trials have been held of the perpetrators? Few to none. They are usually getting shot and killed by forces that are being supported by the same type of crime fighting "abilities" of GSI. In the end, yes they do save the day, but Jesus Christ do they have this weird way of messing things up needlessly. What a bunch of boobs. 

There are some scenes with Frank Wagner, but it seem more like filler as plot device and nothing that drives anything forward in his personal story I feel. Don´t get me wrong, I love to see Kinnaman. But there is a reason I never can remember whether he was in some of these. Especially this one and Leo Gaut as Wagner is so very little part of the stories. In the end of this one Wagner calls out Johan on being callously treated and used. As he is being in the last act of this film, putting him in jepoardy in a gunfight caused by Lasse. So there is that at least.
"I coulda gat shot"

I can´t  say I like this one as much as some of the best in the series. I do really  like the stuff between Lasse and Hanna and their story and ramifications the events in this one will later have. But as important as it is in the Johan Falk-saga  as lacking it is in action so I don´t think I can recommend it enough as a stand alone must see movie. But as I stated it works as part of a bigger story, sort of. But I´ll get to that in Lockdown. 

I think my poor writing on this one reflects my view on it. Like Lasse I don´t believe in God. But, like Hanna I believe in redemption and  hopefully I will redeem myself  in the future. In later studies of Falkology.


Next time on Johan Falk: Yup, all that fine clandestine police work comes up to the surface  and shit starts to stir up and a lot of ugly history of GSI is being revealed.*sarcastically applauding GSI* Also more Frank Wagner

onsdag 23 mars 2016


Previously on Johan Falk:

In National Target Frank Wagner suffers a personal tragedy during what is most likely his last undercover job for GSI.  Johan Falk convinces him helping out one last time. But during this operation, Franks girlfriend is assaulted by the same people he is doing business with, leading to her miscarriage as she was pregnant

Frank Wagner is at this point in his life phasing out of his criminal life, yet Johan isnists of him helping out, not realizing what Frank and his family gone through in previous film. Once again, Johan, the dimwitted cop, fail to understand Franks wish to be left alone.


In all honestly this  always felt to me like a middle of the road Falk film when I first saw it. It was cool to see Peter Andersson return to the role of the intimidating gangster/ resterantowner Leo Gaut. This time more tired and jaded than before. He was easily my favorite thing about it. He kind of is like Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk. Potential for violence if he lets it. But he has chosen to suppress it instead. Luckily we don´t see him tear off his shirt in this, unless it is meant metaphorical, then yes. That does happen.


It opens with a car bombing outside a school. The  G.I Joes of Swedish crimefighting; GSI track the culprit to a shopping mall in Gothenburg. Guns are fired, hostages are taken. The usual stuff in the life of Johan Falk. 

The car bombing at the school was intended to  produce fear into a restaurant owner end extort the shit out of him. Next on that list  to scare is Leo Gaut. The antagonist from the very first Johan Falk-film; Zero Tolerance has served his sentence and is now leading a peaceful life as owner of a tavern/restaurant. He is constantly hassled by the same assholes that explode cars outside of schools. They want part of his business, but he never yields. And as tragic results ensues Gaut goes back to his violent ways and is pushed, like Charles Bronson, into a violent rampage of revenge.

Jibber jabber about the film:

The frictions between the cops and GSI continue, as Johan takes action outside proper procedure, not notifying the cops of the intent, which has the effect of that the case biggest lead ends up in the morgue.  Some fine police work here, ladies and gentlemen. Another fine word would be clusterfuck of policework. 

There is a hostage standoff situation that is repeated later on in the climax. It is reminiscent of the one that sets the events of Zero Tolerance in motion, there are children involved in all the standoffs, for dramatic effect, even in the very first standoff. I think this is very intentional as the film seem to about shedding new light on past relationships.

The opening chase/shootout in the mall feels also very reminiscent in tone from the action opener from the first film. There is a recurrence here which makes this film more interesting, even if it does not drive the overall plot forward very much. It takes place around Christmas just as Zero Tolerance. Or like any good action movie really. Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Long Kiss Good Night, Home Alone. You name it

I don´t know, Leo´s stubborn ways leads indirectly to his daughter´s death. His past life still haunts him. It is a bit like Godfather Part 3. The Part everybody hates, when Michael wants to leave the world of crime but it ends in tragedy. Have you seen that film? Underappreciated film I´d say.

Leo Gaut is still caught in the old world of his, even his thinking. If he really wanted to leave the life he led he would have taken the advice from his wife of selling the restaurant and live a quiet life on the coast, but he choose not to listen. 
 Later in the film Falk and Gaut agree to put their differences aside. Leo need Johan to help his family. Ironic, since Leo Gaut once long ago threatened to destroy Johan’s entire family. Obviously it wasn´t Johan’s then, but the circumstances lead to it. Their fates are almost intertwined. And in the long run when we get to The End there might be some stuff worth to be re-examined. Former rivals ending up helping one another.  Not spoiling anything here, but... So maybe thematically  Leo Gaut  fits in, The film seem more episodic in nature as not much plot drives the rest of the series story forward.  But it is more character based, I see now.

After Leo Gauts daughter has been killed by the fire, Falk meets Leo’s wife in the hospital try to question her of Leo’s whereabouts.  We learn that she has no friends left. As a convicted murderer all her friends turned her back against her for still sticking with him

At this point we start to notice for the first time that Johan starts to see things from Leo’s point of view.  Leo wants to get revenge and Falk’s response is”What should you and I have done in a similar situation?" This is surprisingly emphatic of Johan of understanding the mentality of the person who once was his nemesis.  His black and white point of view is a bit shattered.  And past relationships are coming to an end here starting with Zero Tolerance.  Over the course of several films now Johan has had an affair with Anja (as he had in Zero Tolerance) that concludes here, 

I always thought that cheating on his wife Helen (Marie Richardson from Eyes wide shut) signified Johan’s distance from her and his unwillingness and uneasiness of settled family life. She and the rest of the family still lives in Belgium, but now as the family is starting to come together back in Gothenburg and she finds out about it about the same time he finds out she has had an affair as well. Sounds complicated?

Both friends and enemies are both close and afar to one another in this one. There are some good shots in this film as well. Two are worth mentioning. One is Johan’s first scene with Leo in which he is positioned in the background, almost sneaking up on Leo. Leo does the same to Johan in his apartment later on. They are sneaking up on each other in their own habitats. The atmosphere in both sequences are that of uneasiness as both characters are approaching one and another for the first time in years. '

"I smell a cop.."

"Funny.. I don´t smell anything"

As we can see Johan Falk’s final confrontation with Leo is not on e of violence, but maybe acceptance as he does one thing at the end to help his old nemesis. It is a nice connectiion between two films made many years apart.

The beautifully constructed  final scene  in the movie is of Leo evading the police, crashing, lying on the ground dying, close proximity to death he see his dead daughter reaching out to him. This is intercut with Johan and Helen getting closer again. 
At this point in the series the domestic turmoil ends and  Falk´s family is now connected again for the first time in the series. 

I like the juxtaposition between Leo and Johan in this.  It seems fitting that him and Leo almost makes up and at the same time Johan and Helen makes up. But I still feel it is a middle of the road film in the series. It is a good Falk-film, with many really good to great moments, but not my favorite, but I liked it more this time around.

Nest time on Johan Falk-series: part 8: The one with the russian title I never can remember. Important stuff happens. Pay attention!

söndag 20 mars 2016


There is a lot of stuff going on in this film or the series as a whole. But if I would have gone into that, this blog post would have been even longer. I may write a different post  delving more deeply into the relationships and the different goingons one of these days. But for now, let´s stick to some stuff which I think is worth mentioning. It took more space than I expected.  I need to focus my mind. But there is an awful lot I skip through.I want to write about every single aspect, but the text would have been completely scattershot and unfocused if I discussed everything.

Previously on Johan Falk:

Civilian undercover informant Frank Wagner is forced to to take extreme masures in order to makes  his cover intact as a gangster within the organization of Seth Rydell ( Jens Hultén from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation). Now Frank most definitely does not want to continue working for the GSI taskforce.

Plot talking:

A Mr K whose identity is still unknown is responsible for the drug trafficking  (probably among other sleazy things) to Sweden from Estonia. GSI is on his tail. But looses the trail. Not only does that rhyme, but it also means that GSI is in desperate need of superinfiltrator extraordinarire  Frank Wagner, despite him wanting to get out  (yet again). 

The promises that GSI has given to Wagner becomes more difficult to live up to as they are so dependant on his information. But he agrees to help, but this time he gets more emotionally involved, as his pregnant girlfriend by pure accident oversees him talking to a go-between to Mr K. The gangsters beat her up and as a result she gets hospitalized and loses the child in the process which makes Wagner furious. This is all unbeknownst to Johan Falk as the case proceeds. This builds some tension as it drives Wagner to become more vengeful and in the process threatens to blow the case and for GSI to lose the trail to Mr K once again.

More stuff to talk about:

Falk does not get to do a lot of action himself in this film. He does however gets arrested by the German police after tracking Wagner to a meeting with the Estonian mob boss in Stuttgart. It is Wagner who is the active actionpart in this flm. Gets into fistfights and foot chases and in the end gets revenge by killing Mr K. Falk is confronted with a situation in which he needs to bend the law in a pretty extreme way, by hiding evidence to let Wagner off the hook.

In your typical cop movie "super cop" Falk would have won the day, but what has actually being won by killing a high ranking leader in what will be revealed as part of a much larger organization? What information could have been gained from him which would actually lead to building a case and perform proper police work? Who knows. From a movie point of view, the bad guy dies, the movie ends and that is it. 

But what is great about the larger story that is being told here are”what are the consequences in the long run”. The story just does not end with the one guy get ting shot and killed.  It seldom does in real life. 

Scenes to jibber jabber about:

The scene which sets Wagners action in place is a very good one, but also pretty scary. After visiting his girlfriend Marie ( Ruth Vegas- Fernandez) and having an argument ( she does not like him still doing stuff for GSI) , he is confronted in the parking garage by a representative of the Estonian mob and his goon and suddenly a cell phone is ringing from a far. Wagner and the Estonians separates,  goes their own way and Wagner gets ready to get in his car and drive away when he overhears a violent conversation. This is shown entirely from Wagners point of view. As an audience member we know Marie has entered the parking garage, that she stumbled upon their meeting  and  that it was her cellphone that just happend to start ringing.

We now follow Wagners point of view as he moves to the location of the Estonians and him trying to find out what is going on. We follow him to the point in which he sees poor Marie beaten on the floor and his reaction.

It´s pretty effective use of point of view, I feel. We know, but Frank do not yet.  He might suspect however.  And we share his dread as we know and he slowly finds out. The guy threatens to kill her and her family, unbeknownst to him that Wagner is her family. Standing right there. This made me think of Death Wish and similar revenge movies. Usually  the protagonist seeks revenge for he is not there of the brutal act. The man is missing, not protecting his family for whatever reason, because if he was there you would not have a movie, he would have killed the bad guys right there and then. The End. Here Wagner must control his emotions in order to do what he needs to do. Even if it is his girlfriend lying there.  It is a fucked up situation to be in and the situation wouldn´t have occurred if he had refused to help GSI.

The following scene is also powerful. Marie lies in hospital and Frank is standing outside down below talking to her through the cell phone. Here we see visually the momentary distance Wagner has to his girlfriend but at the same time they are near and intimate with each other.

She is there in the distance, we as an audience lies closer to Frank and perhaps feels his momentarily disconnect as he needs to do what he has to do. 

I have never lost a child and don´t know what it is like. I have heard that couples can break up or disconnect with each other after losing a baby.  Maybe this is some kind of visual clue to their emotional state, I don´t know. I am probably full of shit. I have a bachelor degree in film. I do this kind of shit. Speculate wildly. This is not exact science.

But I think I made a case why this sets the film up in a great way. We feel for Frank now. As I have previously stated; killing  the guy may jeopardize the whole case. A neat twist on the revenge aspect which usually is handled in a more populistic and sensationalistic way in action films.  Here there may be consequences for taking revenge.

Although I wouldn´t mind seeing Joel Kinnaman starring in a Death Wish remake.

Next time on Johan Falk-series: Part 6: We see the return of familiar faces from Zero Tolerance. Are Johan Falk and  Leo Gaut really going to put their differences aside? Who the hell knows? Except people who´ve seen the movie, I guess.

tisdag 15 mars 2016


Warning: this text is full of words.

Previously on Johan Falk:

GSI is an organisation that officially is being labelled a taskforce " spearheading" the war against crime.   Johan Falk comes back to Gothenburg after some years working a deskjob in Brussels. ( Luckily the filmmakers decided not to show  any of this as Falk is a man of action, not man of paperwork. ) As the type of cop who likes to see actual results being done, he seem to have found the right place to do some real police work.

It doesn´t take long before Falk realizes  that GSI operates  without the transparency that police organizations are bound to do.  And when he meet  civilian undercover informer Frank Wagner he gets confronted with some hard truths about the way GSI work.


In the next installment of the Johan Falk-saga suspicions are rising within the criminal organisation Frank Wagner (Joel Kinnaman from RoboCop, The Killing) is infiltrating.. There might be a snitch. And when push comes to shove Frank Wagner crosses a very dangerous line in how far he has to go to  keep his cover intact.

Wagner wishes to get out of this assignment and is hoping the police fulfills their part of the deal and gives him a new identity after doing this one thing.

The plot is about an arms deal , Wagner is a go-between guy in the deal and alert GSI by producing a list of contents of the type of guns that  some dudes wants to buy. This does not bode well as AK-47s and grenade launchers and all sorts of shit is on it. Military weaponry needed for unknown purposes. GSI needs to stop whoever  is buying because it might be for gang warfare.

The bad guys Christmas list. They seem to be up for very very naughty things.
"Time for positive thinking .At least there is not a nuke on that ..."
Plot talking:

That does not sound all that terrifying after all the nuclear wars Jack Bauer has prevented in 24, in which the stakes are much higher. But those types of high concept  plots might look a bit silly, as Swedish movies are restrained to more modest budgets to match the concept. It is also a bit tiring with each concept getting even more  ludicrous than the next in trying to outmatch each other.  That arms cache in this movie would have been shitstain on a  larger pile of shits in an American action movie where we are used to see bigger and more powerful armory. But I like it that they don´t try to emulate american excesses and weapon pornography in the same kind of way. The Falk movies have always felt more mature in that aspect.

It is from a more grounded standpoint, however, a very dangerous situation. All those guns loose and someone is intending to use them. Shit. GSI need to find them before they find out the hard way.

I can dig that type of restrained concept as it makes it a bit more believable.  But the real deal is what happens to the characters after the events rather and the larger themes of these movies that are being played out.  Wagners precarious situation as he is doing illegal stuff unofficially as his status as infiltator is not legal, but also the way GSI is handling the situation and how they operate  bending the rules and protocols as they seem fit for the work,

So shit can get seriously real if GSI can´t find the guns before it is too late.

The plot  clearly indicates why these films are so poorly labeled as crime drama, as the narratives are less on "whodunnit?"- mysteries than on a deadline-esque  narrative as all action films are based around. Something needs to be prevented before it is too late. Not figuring out why a  crime has happened and by whom. Johan Falk  are action films, not detective films. But the Falk-series are usually being marketed in the same categories as the Beck and Wallander series as part of a bigger trend of Nordic Noir, which I don´t agree with. However there is more stuff going on than pure deadline plots.

Wagner is reluctant to help as he wants to leave, so that plot point is further developed in the discussions between Falk and Wagner. He has a family he wants to protect, he wants to have an ordinary life with them without looking over his shoulder at the same time as the GSI are too heavily depended on his informations and they can´t afford losing such a valuable source of information. Without him, they would have little knowledge of what goes on in the criminal underworld, which is proved by the information of the arms deal of which the police would be unaware off without Wagner.

Also, other stuff is going on.

Morally grey areas and undemocratic police work?

What is also going on is Falk questioning the tactics of the GSI. Especially lack of  due process and public insight into the clandestine operations of the organization. In order to get the results that are demanded,  GSI operates in murky areas and in a lot of ways illegal as they skip the procedural protocols that are vital for a police organization in a democratic society.

This is something that will end up being probably the single most interesting aspect of the series. Usually in American action films it is the rogue lone vigilante cop that gets justice done, rather than an effective crime fighting organization. In American films such as Dirty Harry there is more trust in the individual than the state in action films, to actually do things that work. which might be seen as an expression of american values in the belief in the strength of an individuals potential to make a difference. Or whatever.

(But I fucking love Dirty Harry as well.)

More jibber jabber:

Here those same  attitudes have devastating effects in the long run, which makes these action films something of a rare thing; a defense of democracy as it highly questions the effectiveness of such policework will have in the long run. Sure, quick results, as it is demanded by "higher ups" and media might seem good, effective police work. But when that same good, effective work  get some scrutiny, it starts to fall apart. But the reason GSI exists might be a symptom of that same mentality of quick headline fix of the higher ups.The pressure that is being put on lower level police to actually "do" things that they can easily present to the masses, rather than building cases, which  with proper legal proceduarls takes much more time. So, why not smooth out a few bums on the road to make life easier for everyone? The complex police work makes not perhaps for highly digestable news

I don´t have access to how the police operates, but these are some conjectures and thoughts I have been developing after watching these films several times.

Falk and  Patrik Agrell ( chief of GSI)  have a heated agrument regarding this. It is interesting that same lone vigilante cop ends up  being the one that question  the system. but then there is a very interesting scene in which a lower level officer enters the room and Falk quickly talks vaguely about what they  should be doing and how to proceed. "Sit on the information and wait"  Agrell says afterwards: "You´re startng to think like us now" and smirks.

That kind of behavior, to shut off information to the regular police officers,  becomes problems at times later on, as they unknowingly disrupt an entrapment, precisely as they have not been informed on GSIs operations.  Not always smooth sailing on the sea of illegal police activity, is there?

Thinking about this also raises the question why someone like Johan Falk, known for his reckless one man, non-transparancy activities, to be uneasy of GSIs collective non- transparancy  activities.  I mean he did police work without notifying anyone before. And did it oftentimes outside the law. How come he questions it now?

Falk seem to function as  the series moral voice that questions how this actually can be  approved on an institutional level, What he used to do was an act of a very stubborn individual with  TVS (tunnel vision syndrome) and was never considered tolerated behaviour. Like this is. Those were extreme circumstances he was dealing under. This is ordinary police work done  day-to-day without transparency. A different type of critique to police organizations from what we have learned from Dirty Harry.

But luckily we have some shooting too.

" Transparancy is fine, but I´ve had enough pf pushing papers!
Time to shoot someone! "


There is just so much stuff to talk about that I have to stop myself here. There are plenty of  Johan Falk-action left to elaborate further.

Next time on Johan Falk:series Part 6: National Target: Falk gets arrested in Germany and other GSI shenanigans. And Russians!