Wallander-series with Kenneth Branagh - Disc set 1: Sidetracked/Firewall/One Step Behind

In addition to Wallander series with Banagh DVD the original Swedish productions of movies based on Henning Mankell's bestselling crime fiction series about Inspector Kurt Wallander, we now also have a new set of movies produced by BBC and featuring Irish actor Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander. These movies are more recent and excellently made. I have seen most of them, and I enjoyed them a lot. Still, being Scandinavian, even though I liked Branagh's acting, I consider the original Swedish Wallander movies to be more authentic than the BBC version.

Branagh as WallanderBranagh's performance is grumpy, downbeat and skillfully underplayed, as it should be when he is playing Wallander. It's a terrific performance from a very strong actor.

In all these movies, as in the books, shocking crimes are taking place that are hard to solve for the police. He's aided by a good, if unspectacular, supporting cast, although nods must go to Sarah Smart and Tom Hiddleston.

The movies are filmed on location in Sweden, with a lot of beautiful location shooting - some of it quite stunning, actually.

Sidetracked opens with a brilliantly staged scene in which Wallander fails to prevent a young woman from self-immolation in a sunlit field of flowers. He is also beset by a series of murders in the local art business, and by the health issues of his estranged father. Only Wallander can see the connections, which lead to a deadly sex ring and a surprising killer.

Firewall opens with the seemingly senseless murder of a taxi driver by two young women. As other bodies start to pile up, Wallander picks at a strange statement by one of the two young women, who escapes from police custody and then is herself horribly murdered. Wallander's persistance leads him to an unorthodox terrorist plot, and a betrayal by a friend.

One Step Behind involves Wallander in the deaths of several young persons who were connected with a midsummer's eve celebration. Additional deaths lead Wallander into a wider case in which the police seem constantly one step behind the killer or killers.

Product Details

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh
  • Format: Color, DVD, Widescreen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • DVD Release Date: June 2, 2009
  • Run Time: 270 minutes

Wallander, with Branagh, disc set 2

Faceless Killers, The Man Who Smiled, The Fifth Woman

Wallander Branagh series 2BBC's Wallander Series 2 is perhaps even better than the first series. The mysteries are to some extent more interesting, and - perhaps most important - Kenneth Branagh seems to be more comfortable and confident playing the character of the introvert and clever Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. In my opinion he does an outstanding job in these three movies. Dave Shiflett of Bloomberg aptly described Kurt Wallander as "perhaps the most melancholy man on television" and Kenneth Branagh's performance as "majestically morose".

Branagh in Faceless KillersAs most readers will know, the series is based on the crime fiction novels by Swedish writer Henning Mankell. Mankell is a writer who writes to tell a story, and often his stories are about social issues, such as racism and anti-immigration sentiments, trafficking in human organs, and domestic abuse. The BBC-version of this series follows Mankell's novels quite closely.

Many of the side characters are excellently played as well: Fellow detectives Anne-Brit Hoglund (Sarah Smart), Magnus Martinsson (Tom Hiddleston), and pathologist Nyberg (Richard McCabe) are very well portrayed.

Faceless Killers is about the killing of an elderly couple, murdered in their farmhouse. The woman, while dying, whispers something. Was it "foreigner"? Or something else? He isn't sure. However, when this is leaked to the media, and they start working the "foreigner"-angle, the community starts to boil. Wallander needs to solve the case before it boils over.

In The Man Who Smiled Wallander is on leave and planning to resign following the events of the previous episode when he is asked to look into odd circumstances surrounding a recent death in an auto accident.

The Fifth Woman starts with the killing of an elderly birdwatcher and escalates into a series of torture-murders that have no obvious connection. Wallander and his colleagues are dealing with a serial killer who targets financially successful men with a history of bullying women. But who is the killer?

If you have been captivated by the first installment of the Wallander series, the second is a must for you. It is excellent - great crime fiction, beautiful scenery, wonderful acting and an interesting and intriguing hero! First rate entertainment!

Product Details (US version)

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh, David Warner, Sarah Smart, Karin Bertling, Jeany Spark
  • Directors: Aisling Walsh, Andy Wilson, Hettie Macdonald, Niall MacCormick, Philip Martin
  • Writers: Henning Mankell, Richard Cottan, Richard McBrien
  • Format: Color, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 2010
  • Run Time: 270 minutes
See also the review of Wallander Series Box Set 1 and Disc Sets 2 and 3 of the Swedish version.
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Most recent Scandinavian movies on DVD reviewed:

King of Devil's Island - Stellan Skarsgård

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Jar City, excellent Icelandic crime movie based on a book by Arnaldur Indridason

Troubled Water - an extraordinary Norwegian movie

Pusher Trilogy. Hard, violent Danish movies about gangsters.

As it is in Heaven. Charming Swedish movie, romantic, funny, warm.

Max Manus - about a hero in the Norwegian resistance during WWII

Flame and Citron - about the Danish resistance during WWII

Antichrist and other movies by Danish Lars von Trier

The Van Veeteren collection (Hakan Nesser)

Kurt Wallander series (Henning Mankell)

Irene Huss movies (Boxed set) Helene Tursten

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