False Trail Review

Film Still
  • False Trail film still


Kjell Sundvall's sequel to his '90s thriller features Peter Stormare’s best performance since Fargo.

Kjell Sundvall’s sequel to his own 1996 hit, Jägarna (The Hunters), sees Stockholm-based detective Erik Bäckström (Rolf Lassgård) venture into the sticks to help along a murder case while facing up to his past mistakes. As a character, he is your standard-issue troubled plod, apprehensive about a trip to his hometown after departing years ago because of a family tragedy, one he may well have been responsible for.

If au fait with the original instalment, then the cause of Bäckström’s unease is already known. But False Trail works on two levels: as a generic mystery thriller and continuing family saga. Enough information is given about Jägarna and its relation to the sequel without getting bogged down in too much exposition.

Rolf Lassgård and Peter Stormare are excellent as the mismatched cops under pressure to find the culprit who brutally murdered a local girl. The latter, playing bullyboy local sheriff Torsten, offers a sharp reminder of how he has spent a good fifteen years or so wasting his talent with OTT gurning in Hollywood dross.

Here, there are welcome shades of Jim Thompson’s villain-cop Nick Corey from the magnificent Pop. 1280. Torsten’s no-nonsense country boy manner masks a sly individual and the film gets a lot of mileage from the thematic duality between outward appearance and deep-running personal woes. Bäckström’s sophisticated, but aloof professional manner and emotional distance is a weak spot goaded by Torsten, who thinks he’s smarter than everybody else in the room.

The landscape plays a vital role as both ironic reminder the country’s international image as a socialist utopia, and it might not tally with conceptions of picturesque Swedish life. Shot in that quintessential, wintry soft-focus amber light, it feels near enough a visual cliché in Sweden’s national cinema.

The current vogue for Scandinavian detective fiction and noir tales of corruption and scandal shows no sign of abating any time soon. False Trail fits right in. Though fairly underwhelming in terms of plot, there are moments where the film grips hard. It does, however, outstay its welcome, with a third act that severely drags.

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