Beck” is the first of a planned 16 new films about fictional Stockholm policeman Martin Beck, created by novelists Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. Stylistically inspired by “Seven,” it’s an efficient little thriller, but the character shows all the signs of a commercial, more violent updating from the one immortalized in such pics as Bo Widerberg’s “The Man on the Roof,” Stuart Rosenberg’s “The Laughing Policeman” and six recent Swedish features starring Gosta Ekman. Film has commercial promise, at least in Europe.
Unlike the Beck in the 10 Sjowall-Wahloo novels, this late-’90s version wears a gun, and his colleague Gunvald Larsson beats up suspects to get them to confess. Scripter Rolf Borjlind apparently received permission from Sjowall to write these totally new stories (Wahloo died years ago).
Yarn centers on the hunt for a pedophile who kills his young victims. It’s shot in a hectic and feverish style, with brisk pacing and some brutal but discreet violence.
Peter Haber is good as Beck, but the most powerful screen presence here belongs to Mikael Persbrandt, as Larsson. He has a combination of raw energy and charisma that could take him a long way as an actor.