Details: (M), 90 mins, In Cinemas 20 September 2012, Sweden,
Synopsis: While covering the annual Nobel Banquet for tabloid Kvällspressen, crime reporter Annika Bengtzon (Malin Crépin) witnesses a spectacular murder right in front of her. Annika is the key witness and is bound by the police not to disclose anything she has seen. Annika however becomes increasingly convinced that the real target of the attack is the Chairman of the Nobel Committee. Her journalistic investigation leads her closer to the inner workings and power struggle within the closed and secretive circle of the Nobel Committee. As she gets closer to the truth, the situation becomes increasingly dangerous.
First adaptation of hit novel series aims for established fans.
It gives audiences more than they need in some departments and asks too much in others
Made by the same company who produced the Swedish film versions of the Steig Larsson books, Last Will hopes to replicate that publishing/movie phenomenon. It’s unlikely to achieve that in Australia, but Liza Marklund’s detective series featuring crime reporter Annika Bengtzon (played by Malin Crepin in a manner that recalls Meg Ryan in Courage Under Fire) is a Swedish publishing sensation. As this too faithful for its own good film adaptation unfurls, audiences will soon realise that this movie is partially playing to an audience who already know the reporter’s world.
The investigating police officer, the curmudgeonly editor and the newspaper proprietor that the reporter encounters in this murder mystery all seem like familiar characters from a film we haven’t seen. No doubt movie audiences had similar feelings about Miss Moneypenny and Felix Leiter when Dr. No came out. The first film, Last Will is actually sourced from the sixth novel in a series. Consequently the ‘sub-plots’ of Bengtzon’s son being bullied at school and her spats with her possibly philandering husband have nothing to do with the story at hand, except for the producers hoping to reel audiences in for future instalments. They’re confident: they have Crepin starring in four more adaptations due for Swedish release later this year.
The real story begins when crime reporter Bengtzon fills in for her newspaper’s medical correspondent by covering the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to an Israeli scientist. Staying on to attend the post-award celebratory ball, Bengtzon is asked to dance by the charming Bernhard Thorell (Per Graffman), who twirls her around the dance floor, as the film introduces several guests, all of whom will soon be suspected of organising a murder. Into this setting comes a golden-eyed woman (Antje Traue) in a gold lamé dress who starts a shooting spree. The Israeli scientist is injured, but his dancing partner, and the driving force of the Nobel committee’s controversial decision to award the Israeli’s prize, Caroline von Behring (Anna von Rosen), dies.
The assassin gets away and the Stockholm press conclude that the Jewish scientist was targeted by Muslim extremists. In contrast, Bengtzon has a hunch that the dead woman was not collateral damage, but the key hit.
The murder, well set up by the opening scene, holds the attention, but the ensuing investigation rarely delivers more tensions than a run-of-the-mill cop show. Tipping the scales toward ridiculousness is the revelation that the golden-eyed assassin is on the CIA most wanted list. Espionage is plausible of course, but it sits awkwardly with the rest of Bengtzon’s reporter on the beat milieu.
The attraction of a movie thriller that circulates around a world famous institution is obviously internationally marketable, but it doesn’t feel like the smartest way to begin this detective franchise. It gives audiences more than they need in some departments and asks too much in others. Insatiable crime buffs will enjoy Last Will, but subsequent episodes are unlikely to hit Australian cinema screens.
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