22 April, 2016

Follow The Money season 1 review

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama, Political Thriller.
Starring: Thomas Bo Larsen, Natalie Madueno, Esben Smed Jensen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Thomas Hwan, Lucas Hansen, Kasper Leisner.
Year Of Release: 2016
Certificate: 15 (UK)
Episodes: 10
Director: Per Fly
Language: Danish, Swedish, English (English subtitles)
Synopsis: "A series about the company Energreen. Where we are following a policeman working on a case, where he is trying to figure out, what is going on inside Energreen" IMDB

“Follow The Money” is a Danish Crime/Thriller set in the cut throat world of big finance, more specifically in renewable energies. The show follows Mads (Thomas Bo Larsen) and his fraud squad who are of the belief that something is seriously wrong with the energy firm Energreen. His fears are confirmed when lawyer Claudia (Natalie Madueno) uncovers all is not seems on the surface.

Another Norsk export that hits the ground running, whatever they seem to touch over there currently just turns to gold. While this is of a very different vein to our previously reviewed “Trapped” this one comes from a different calibre of director, this time around the show was developed and directed by different people the show was developed by Jeppe Gjervig Gram, Jannik Tai Mosholt,with direction by Per Fly. Fly has recently signed on to direct “Backstabbing for Beginners” starring Theo James and Ben Kingsley of which he wrote and is directing. Fly does extremely well to create tension in a subject that from the outside would struggle to interest the everyday man, it’s a very high-class area of a high-class sector. I knew little to nothing and still don’t about the finance sector, but that didn’t stop the tension from feeling real and being able to bring me to my seats edge on many occasions.
Another stellar cast in a Nordic television show should come as no surprise to anybody who has watched a since episode in any of the shows. The acting across the border is wonderful again, with stand out performances from Thomas Bo Larsen and Nikolaj Lie Kaas, two very contrasting characters that play so well off each other in this cut throat world. Along with supporting characters the casting is spot on as usual, resulting in performances to rival the "big TV" you see over here in the UK or over in the US.

The plot twists and turns in attempts to throw the viewer that seem to come a little more often than is necessary do their job well to keep you drawn in to what is going on with Evergreen. The main issue that show seemed to have was the pacing was far too slow, it can be seen what they were trying to do with a slow burn to bring you into the world, but it kind of served as a wedge that ends up to an extent alienating the viewer. The constant use of hooks to keep you coming back each episode aren't as necessary as the show-runners would like, to the point at which some of the hooks are noticeable before an episode ends. This does little to take away from the enjoyment  of the show it just felt unnecessary as if they were worried the story as a whole wouldn't entice viewers but it does.
Overall, the show is a good thrill ride in the world of big finance, chalked full of great acting performances and wonderfully shot cinematography which is expected with shows of this nature. If you have even a miniscule interest in the subject at question or the current flock of television shows coming out of the Nordic countries then this is definitely one for you, alternatively if you're new to this area of TV this is a great stepping stone to other shows like "Trapped" check out our review or "The Bridge". Another enjoyable show to sink your teeth into that will keep you highly entertained throughout the 10 episode run, I will certainly be keeping my eye on Nordic Noir & Beyond releases in the coming weeks, months and years to come.
Trapped releases April 25th on DVD & Blu-Ray through Arrow Films and Nordic Noir & Beyond, get hold of your copies now!

05 April, 2016

Trapped review

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Drama.
Starring: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson.
Year Of Release: 2016 (UK)
Certificate: 15 (UK)
Episodes: 10
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Language: Icelandic, Danish, English (English subtitles)
Synopsis: "In a remote town in Iceland, Police desperately try to solve a crime as a powerful storm descends upon the town." IMDB

“Trapped” is a Nordic, Icelandic to be more specific is a mystery/crime/thriller, set in the small Icelandic town of Seyðisfjörður. The idyllic town is thrown into a sense of fear when a mutilated corpse is discovered, local Police Chief Andri Olafsson played by the incredible badass that is Ólafur Darri Ólafsson. Whose investigation is thrown into jeopardy when a huge storm blows in cutting off the small fishing town from the rest of the world with the unknown assailant still at large?

The show was developed and created by Baltasar Kormákur Samper widely known for his work on “Contraband”, “2 Guns” and “Everest”. Baltasar also directed all 10 episodes with Sigurjón Kjartansson writing the season and serving as an executive producer. Baltasar really showcases his talent as a truly brilliant director especially with the usage of the beautiful cinematography from Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson. Some of the shows Baltasar uses are just phenomenal from a film-making stand point but also breathtakingly beautiful to behold even on the small screen. The combination of Björgúlfsson and Kormákur has quickly became one of the most beautiful dynamics in television in recent years, their talents amplify each other in such incredible ways that seeing their names nominated for Academy Awards in coming years wouldn’t surprise me at all, even less if it was for the same project.

The use of more low-key action sequences is a breath of fresh air in pure contrast to American/British shows in which they rely heavily of muddy action scenes to sell their shows. Trapped uses brilliant storytelling, well written dialogue and well-acted scenes in order to bring you to the edge of your seat in every episode, while each episode ends on a cliff-hanger this does little more than to serve as an extra push for that “one more episode” feel we all long for in this binge-watch culture we are accustom to. We are given enough time with characters to see them properly develop and their relationships hit highs and lows within the lowly Icelandic town. The decision to tone down the action in aid of progressing characters will be a welcomed one to fans of the mystery genre, which will transport you from your couch to battling the emotions in the Icelandic weather. The shows approach to having a realistic feel is a change of pace from the near superhero world some police shows live in today, by this I mean constant “danger” of being killed while never actually even being hurt, always coming out unscathed. While watching “trapped” you feel like this sort of thing could be happening in your home town and you wouldn’t be the wiser.
Where to begin when it comes to the acting, the acting in this show is pretty much second to none that I have ever seen. While they are speaking a language we are not familiar with, they don’t struggle at all to translate everything they want the audience to feel. Stand out performances from majority of the cast with the major one being Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, just WOW there really is no other words for his performance his bear like demeanour and peculiar policing tactics you’re in for a treat. If you’re worried about going into a show in which the language spoken isn’t your native tongue, I can say with my hand on my heart, this truly isn’t a thing to worry about. Reading subtitles becomes second nature in no time due to pure enthralment in the performances.  

The show does everything it can to match the brilliance of recent Nordic shows that have taken the world by storm “The Bridge”, “Lilyhammer” and “The Killing” not only does it match what these shows brought to the small screen. In its own way it outshines these shows with the use of claustrophobia and severe weather to make you feel like you are part of this close-knit community during their turbulent time. After a big opener the show falls into a nicely paced complex thriller to rival the Hollywood films in the genre the likes of “Prisoners” or “Gone Girl” and rivals their end product too.
Overall, I found the show to be thoroughly enjoyable start to finish it is a triumph in small screen cinema that surpasses its equivalents and even rivals the films Hollywood churn out each year. While I had some reservations going into the show, they were all squashed before the credits rolled after the initial episode. The show is a well-drawn out mystery thriller that will have you hooked and wanting more, along with well written and directed gripping episodes the cast excel in drawing you into their world and not letting you escape until the season ends, resulting in one of the most enjoyable but heart racing shows in recent years. Tension, excitement, fear and enjoyment at every bend “Trapped” or to give it its original Icelandic title “Ófærð“ will have you longing for more and delving into the Nordic made shows of a similar vein in no time! 
Trapped releases April 11th on DVD & Blu-Ray through Arrow Films and Nordic Noir & Beyond, get hold of your copies now!