The film is actually the sequel to a little-known 1996 feature called Jägarna, but you don’t need to have seen this to your enjoy what’s on offer here, as the makers have managed to explain away the backstory of the major characters in a way which doesn’t distract from the thrust of the story.
Erik Backstrom (Rolf Lassgård – star of the original Wallander) is a weary homicide detective who returns from the urban landscape of Stockholm to the small rural community in the north of Sweden where he grew up. Backstrom has some skeletons in his closet (the basis of the original film) which has kept him away for a long time, but his skills are needed when a local woman goes missing and her car is found with traces of her blood inside.
Local policeman Torsten (Peter Stormare) believes it to be a simple case of murder, and he already has a strong suspicion as to who may have committed the crime. Erik senses there may be more to it than that, and his theories and investigative techniques clashes with those of the cop, who happens to be married to the wife of the detective’s deceased brother, and is also bringing up Backstrom’s sixteen year-old nephew as his own.
False Trail is a very watchable ‘Nordnoir’, but what elevates the material beyond the type of TV police procedural it often resembles, are the fine performances from Lassgård and Stormare and the stunning use of locations. The rugged Scandinavian terrain has never looked so beautiful, yet so menacing, and the stark wilderness the characters often find themselves in adds another layer of intrigue and atmosphere. Stormare has carved out quite a career for himself in Hollywood playing the unhinged, wiry type, and there’s a real delight here in seeing the actor perform in his native tongue. He commands the screen whenever he appears on it, and Lassgård too, brings a stoic, haunted presence to proceedings.
The melodrama is heaped on a little too thick occasionally, but director Kjell Sundvall expertly cranks up the suspense and tension to a palpable level throughout, even after the killer is revealed well before the final act.
This decent little thriller will appeal to fans of The Killing and will probably find a decent-sized fanbase on the small screen too, rather than the cinema. While it may not pack the same visual punch as the likes of two The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films, there’s much to admire here.