Review: ‘The Third Wave’

Final film in helmer-writer Anders Nilsson's trilogy centered on cop Johan Falk and European crime syndicates looks to reap major B.O. on home turf and brisk sales offshore. Use of English (and French) alongside Swedish dialogue should be a further aid in crossing frontiers.

Tight, violent and suspenseful, “The Third Wave” is the best action movie made in Sweden since Bo Widerberg’s 1976 “The Man on the Roof.” This final film in helmer-writer Anders Nilsson’s trilogy centered on cop Johan Falk and European crime syndicates looks to reap major B.O. on home turf and brisk sales offshore. Use of English (and French) alongside Swedish dialogue should be a further aid in crossing frontiers.

In his first feature, “Zero Tolerance,” Nilsson dealt with how international criminals had started to spin a web in Sweden to finance their doings. In the sequel, “Executive Protection,” he showed how syndicates use threats and extortion to take over legitimate companies. In “The Third Wave,” crims are buying into banks, financial institutions and even more companies to increase their hold over European business.

Pic opens with Sellberg (Lennart Hjulstrom), a high-ranking cop from Gothenburg, made head of the department fighting organized crime at Europol, the EU’s own police force. Meanwhile, in London, a woman, Rebecca (Irina Bjorklund), discovers her b.f., Phoenix Kane (Ben Pullen), is involved in international financial scams. When he’s hospitalized after being run down by a car, she crosses to The Hague to meet with Sellberg in a restaurant.

Meanwhile, the cynical Falk (Jakob Eklund) — hero of “Zero Tolerance” and “Executive Protection” — appears at the same restaurant. Since leaving the force, he has been on vacation in southern Europe with his g.f., Helen (Marie Richardson), and her daughter, Nina (Hanna Alsterlund). He’s agreed to meet his old friend and boss Sellberg, who wants Falk to join Europol’s task force.

After Falk turns down Sellberg’s offer and leaves, Rebecca enters the restaurant and three hired killers dressed as policemen try to grab her. In the gun battle that follows Sellberg dies. Rebecca ends up on the run with Falk, Helen and Nina.

On their tail are the gunmen, as well as Devlin (Nicholas Farrell) and Stevens (John Benfield), who’ve been hired by a financial institution in London to find Rebecca. It all leads to Munich and a violent showdown against the backdrop of anti-EU demonstrations.

Helmer Nilsson has improved his skills with each film and here, with a sizable budget by Swedish standards ($4.5 million), he’s come up with a good-looking product.

Though pic sounds like another Euro-pudding, it’s anything but. “The Third Wave” comes across as a Swedish film that happens to take place in several countries, with natural use location footage and the various languages, with Swedish and English emerging as the dominant lingos.

The three major action sequences are well set up and the violence is heavy, swift and bloody without being dwelt over. The excellent soundtrack and moody music by Bengt Nilsson (helmer´s brother) are a major assist in building suspense. Transfer to film from the Cinealta 24P digital system is excellent, even in widescreen format.

Eklund perfectly captures the cynicism and world-weariness of Falk who can be as tough and lethal as those who oppose him. Bjorklund, previously seen in Finnish films like “Ambush” and “Me and Morrison,” again proves her impressive range, while the British thesps, especially Farrell, bring depth to their supporting roles.

The Third Wave



A Sonet Film release of a Sonet Film production, in association with Film i Vast, Chimney Pot, Anders Nilsson Filmproduktion, with participation of Sandrew Metronome, SF Bio. (International sales: Trust Film Sales, Copenhagen.) Produced by Joakim Hansson. Executive producer, Peter Possne. Directed by Anders Nilsson. Screenplay, Nilsson, Joakim Hansson.


Camera (color, widescreen, CineAlta 24p), P.A. Svensson; editor, Darek Hodor; music, Bengt Nilsson; art director, Jan Olof Agren; costume designer, Marie Flyckt; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Stereo), Niklas Skarp, Henrik Ohlin. Reviewed at Rigoletto, Stockholm, Oct. 6, 2003. Running time: 115 MIN.


Jakob Eklund, Irina Bjorklund, Nicholas Farrell, Ben Pullen, Marie Richardson, Sylvester Groth, Lennart Hjulstrom, John Benfield, Robert Giggenbach, Pierre Deny, Emmanuel Limal, Hanna Alsterlund, Jacqueline Ramel, Joram Voelklein, Joep Sertons, David Frederickson. (Swedish, English, French, German dialogue)
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