Branagh takes the title role, and he’s Wallander’s leading asset. His performance here is grumpy, downbeat and deliberately stuck, and he skillfully underplays his role. It’s a terrific performance from a very strong actor. Around him, mysterious and shocking crimes are taking place, and it’s his job to get to the bottom of them. He’s aided by a good, if unspectacular, supporting cast, although nods must go to Sarah Smart and Tom Hiddleston.
Filmed on location in Sweden, yet still more British in feel than you’d perhaps expect, Wallander nonetheless is intelligent, and at best gripping drama. It’s well made, too, with some stylish directional choices that may isolate some viewers, but do enhance the production. There’s clearly been a lot of thought and planning involved here, and it does pay dividends.
That said, Wallander is likely to be a divisive programme. It eschews quite a few of the conventions of the genre, instead playing things more downbeat than we’ve perhaps become accustomed to. Naturally, this is also what strengthens the programme. And, combined with Branagh in excellent form, there’s enough here to warrant further investigation. For at its best, Wallander is both brilliant, and a little bit different, and it’s very much worth checking out. --Jon Foster