The second in the new series of Inspector Beck movies looks like a thriller made by Lars von Trier --- not surprisingly, since many of the people involved, including director Morten Arnfred, are von Trier alumni. But despite some good moments, pic reps a step backward compared with the first outing.

The second in the new series of Inspector Beck movies looks like a thriller made by Lars von Trier — not surprisingly, since many of the people involved, including director Morten Arnfred, are von Trier alumni. But despite some good moments, pic reps a step backward compared with the first outing.

The current series of eight movies — two for theatrical distribution and six for TV — are based on new stories set in present-day Stockholm. Scriptwriter Rolf Borjlind has used the characters created by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo and tried to make them function in a Sweden that has become much colder and much more violent than the one depicted in their bestselling novels of the ’60s and ’70s.

In the first film, Beck and his colleagues hunted a pedophile who murdered his victims. In “Beck 2,” people are being slaughtered on the platforms of Stockholm’s subway, and, as the resulting panic threatens the collapse of the city’s main transportation artery, Beck & Co. have to solve the murders quickly. Weakness of the pic is that there’s no sense of shock when the killers are discovered; audiences are more likely to feel irritated over lapses in the plot’s logic.

Acting is good, though Peter Haber, as Beck, has most of the limelight stolen from him this time by Mikael Persbrandt as his violent sidekick. And the love story between Beck and a female colleague (Stina Rautelin) feels underwritten.

Technically, pic has a similar look to von Trier’s “The Kingdom.” Helmer Arnfred worked as the Danish wunderkind’s assistant on “Breaking the Waves” and both parts of “The Kingdom,” and here employs many of the same stylistic devices , including hand-held camera and yellow/ochre visuals. But what works in von Trier’s films is not suitable for a thriller that aims for a realistic approach: Arnfred should have realized that enough is enough.

Beck 2

(SWEDISH-GERMAN-DANISH)

Production

An Egmont Film release (in Sweden) of a Victoria Film, FilmLance Intl., TV4 (Sweden)/Frankfurter Film Produktion (Germany)/TV2 (Denmark) production, in association with Canal Plus, TV2 Norge and Merkur Film. (International sales: J&M Entertainment, London.) Produced by Lars Blomgren, Thomas Lydholm. Executive producer, Ole Sondberg. Directed by Morten Arnfred. Screenplay, Rolf Borjlind. Camera (color), Erik Kress; editor, Morten Giese; music, Ulf Dageby; art direction, Lasse Westfelt; costume design, Mona Theresia Forsin; sound (Dolby), Stefan Ljungberg, Klas Engstrom. Reviewed at Columbia TriStar screening room, Stockholm, Nov. 18, 1997. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Inspector Martin Beck ..... Peter Haber Gunvald Larsson ..... Mikael Persbrandt Lena Klingstrom ..... Stina Rautelin Annika ..... Cecilia Hall Erik Lindgren ..... Carlo Schmidt Joakim Wersin ..... Per Morberg Jens ..... Kasper Lindstrom Magnusson ..... Staffan Gothe Ernstrom ..... Margareta Niss
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