söndag 23 oktober 2016


Previously on Johan Falk:

Johan has been snared into working for the Russians. He  now has a handler. A  woman which we as of yet has no knowledge of.  From our point of view he has been snared. But from the Russians point of view they have recruited someone to work for them. The grey murky areas continue to make cracks on the ground we walk on.

Meanwhile, there might be a power struggle brewing inside Seth Rydells gang, and the connections between GSI and  Seth Rydell  are slowly getting tighter at the same time there are huge tensions.

Oh yeah, GSI might have been compromised and there might be a cop inside GSI  helping the Russians.


The plot this time takes a bit of a temporary wide turn to tell a story of international political intrigue inside a Middle Eastern country and how it spills over to Swedish soil, involving , for Falkologists, a very familiar face, Pernilla  (Alexandra Rapaport) from Executive Protection, now owner of her own private security firm and privately inside a real shitstorm. In the opening of the film we see she´s been hired to protect the family to a higher ups in an no named Middel Eastern country. But shit hits the fan and her security detail gets ambushed and kidnapped.Pernilla is forced to help the terrorists for reasons unknown at first, but it involves a badass diplomat working on Swedish soil, civil war and some trickery involving money transactions and coimputers. (According to the shooting script one of the security guards is Ralf from Executive Protection, which I did not realize it at first.)

We also get introduced to the owner of an MMA club wanting to buy guns from Seth who has connections with  Czechen  mafia. this subplot will  be more elaborated on in next film. Another chesspiece has entered the board.

Patrik has stepped down as leader for GSI due to his cancer, but he remains as a mentor to Sophie. Also GSI need to find who has leaked. There is an infiltrator within the police. 

Meanwhile , Jack is struggling to cope with  his two failed assassination attempts on his brother-in-arms Seth Rydell. The Pakistanis are pretty pissed about that.  Jack is also  suspecting Seth working for the cops.

Jibber jabber:

The plot is pretty convoluted this time around, perhaps too much so to really care about and invest in. The surface plot with the middle eastern politics seem at surface bland and uninteresting. But thematically one might find one or two things worth mentioning.

Just as Johan, Pernilla is put in a morally grey position as she is forced to help terrorists in a civil war struggle, a conflict that for us as outsiders we have little grasp on.  She seems to also have a handler; one of the terrorists actually says "she is my responsibility". The villains might believe they are doing what is best for their own country. Who are we to judge? We are put in a position to root against them as they threaten Swedes; Pernilla as they hold her personnel hostage against her. But put in a different narrative light, their actions might be understood. Thinking this way it gives the  series another furnish of complexity, that the world is not as easily defined in terms of good and bad.

I think this is the one that is hardest to grasp as far as the narrative goes. Weapon deals, diamond heists, foreign politics and fragile alliances of all sorts. A lot is going on. It becomes more of a espionage thriller, than a straight forward thriller like the last one. Who is who and who does what to who?

In one of the scenes the diplomat  survives an attempt by being a complete badass, overcomes, stabs and kick the living shit out of two assassins even when shot at close range:

A bit of awkwardness occurs as Johan and Pernilla meet for the first time in  like thirteen years.

The scene is fairly straightforwardly shot, shot-reverse shot , with some close ups to the faces to try to see what  reactions can be revealed.. Signaling that these people are professionals that despite meeting each other for the firts time in years, they keep their guard up. It is a poker game.

They´ve never socialized outside their professions before. A line is at the end of the scene exchanged in which they might have lunch someday. I don´t  think so.

Underneath the courtesy lies some suspicion as one line form the script more explicitly states when Pernilla asks "Are you spying on me?. That line seems to have been deleted and instead relied on insinuation. Good.

Later there is a similar confrontation, but with more emotional underpinnings when Jack and Seth reveals to each other their true intentions. 

Similar setup, but with a higher degree of suspicion, underlying threats and explicit earnesty. They have no secrets  anymore. The hostility is in the open it seems.  These are two people with a history, they´ve built tight bonds and go way back, which makes the scene  more involving. You know these people cared for each other. It went beyond  being professionals, they were "brothers". I care more about these criminals than Pernilla and Johans relatonship.


To be honest, I prefer the last movie´s more straight forward approach, but I can appreciate the ballsyness of crafting a more diffused narrative to complement the underlying themes of the difficulty in where to draw a line morally. It is murky, grey and hard to make something of, The espionage elements makes it way more vague and ambivalent, like we have fallen into a dark abyss in which there is no moral, no bottom to plant your feet and grasp your world.   Seth is selling arms to terrorists at the same time he helps the police. It is an ongoing morally ambiguous tale, which this series excel at, but I would have liked to have been more invested in the plot.

I never could figure out entirely what was going on in the politics so as a surface thriller it kind of disappears into blandness. It is what is going on between the characters in the subplots that keeps this one afloat and the overall themes that lies like a blanket over everything that happens.

All this confusion made me think. I don´t know, any more, you guys. Are the Russians any worse than the supposedly good guys on our parts anymore. Should we actually embrace this fear of Russians or is there another way to look at these apparently  unfathomable bunch of people? Are they so strange and weird? Or am I strange and weird for thinking that?

Next time on Johan Falk:

Undercover work within the MMA club and the Czechen mafias stronhold.

fredag 7 oktober 2016


Previously on Johan Falk:

A lot of shit went down. The credibility of the police force for one. Frank Wagners cover was blown and he was let down by the government who had used him for their own benefit without fulfilling their promise. Johan stepped up and made sure Frank could get away, redeeming himself somewhat by executing the Russian mobster who´d  targeted Frank.

But how the hell did the Russian Mob (Tm?) get access the secret identities of every GSI member? The plot thickens...


The movie opens almost like Code name: Lisa but instead of someone lurking outside Frank Wagners apartment  someone is  clutching the handle to Johan Falks door. Johan approaches the door, with a pistol in his hands, trembling and  seemingly suffering from PTSD  from shooting Dudajev in the goddamn head so Frank could get away and have a clean start.  This is the first time we have seen Johan this distraught. Because of the cold blooded murder of Dudajev he had now taken steps beyond law and order for the very first time in a big way.

We also see how the Russian mafia has located huge old weapon caches inside containers in a lake in Latvia  that once belonged to the Russian government.  We will later see that they may plan to smuggle some of them into Sweden.


The plot starts  immediately after the events of Codename: Lisa.  GSI is trying to figure out how Dudajev  could have gotten hold of the identities of the team. Johan is approached by the Dudajev widow and she is scared of the repurcussions she will face from the Russian mob. What Dudajev was up to wasn´t  sanctioned by the higher-ups ( seems familiar).  He was a loose cannon that brought too much attention it seems.

What Johan wants in return for his help is the intel on where the information on his team came from. In order  to get it he has to  protect her in Riga. But when he is there he manages to get the intel to GSI, but too late realizes the whole thing was a setup, gets bushwhacked and Dudajevs widow being murdered in the process, and ends up in a secluded hotel room, bruised , battered and confused.

He is later being approached in the hotel lobby by a  Russian woman who conveys the layout of the land to Johan. They have planted evidence so Johan will take the fall for the murder of the widow, unless he agrees to work for them. So basically, the woman becomes a handler for Johan. The tables seem to have turned.

Johan reluctantly  agree to play along (momentarily at least) and is given the task of smuggling a truck full of those guns the Russians dug up from a lake into Sweden. During the drive to Sweden Johan must find a way out of this before he reaches his home country. because, who the hell would want more high powered guns? Oh... bad guys. That´s right.

Meanwhile, turmoil are brewing inside  Seth Rydells organization as a former companion , Jack
(Björn Bengtsson) has been realised from prison and wants to reassert his position in the gang. There is later an attempt on Seths life that Jack orchestrated. The conflict has been presented, a lot of history is being conveyed between these two characters and brings even more complexity and nuances to the plot.

"Your fucking Hobbexbomb means for non-Swedish readers Mailorder-bomb"

A lot of chess pieces are being setup in this one. So to speak,  And I am glad to see Falk being the centrepiece of the narrative once again as he  becomes the propulsive force to the main plot. 

This is reminiscent to Zero Tolerance as Johan has himself to blame for falling into an obvious  trap and getting snared, History repeats itself.  But apparently he has to act recklessly inorder to get the story going.

On a surface level this works as a great straight forward action movie, with  an exciting setup. But as one digs deeper, it becomes complex with betrayals within betrayals within different groups and as we learn at the end of the film, GSI is not spared from treachery. Ohhh. SPOILER by the way.

Jakob Eklund as Falk gets more to work with the role here than in a lot of the previous ones. In one touching moment of the film as he drives the truck Falk calls his family, finds out that his stepdaughter is pregnant and his reaction to it. It is a great  moment for the audience, as we know what peril he is in, but they don´t. His family is happy and safe for the moment. The tranquility is about to fall apart within the next films.

For a movie that runs for 100 minutes, it is jampacked with plot points, subplots and lots of stuff that are worthy of scrutiny. But this is the joy of being a Falkologist. There is always something to bring up, discuss and evaluate.

Music and cinematography:

I´ve never before mentioned Bengt Nilssons score, which for me has always been  a high point from Zero Tolerance to this day. Mixing the usual beats and  percusssions of an action score with sombre, melancolic tenderness, Using violins in a non-sappy way is pretty amazing. Nilssons score stands above a lot of contemporaries in my opinion, brings a lot to these films and is a big part of what makes them unique in contemporary  Swedish action- cinema.

I also must mention the look of this series with its vibrant look utilizing more shadows, more greens and blues and  just makes the show feel darker in tone. It  definitely looks more cinematic than the previous two series, which is  a great  evolvement and thematically suitable.to what is going on.

Jibber jabber:

In my opinion, the best scene, is not even in the released film! A sequence that was dropped presenting to the viewer a  highly atmospheric  piece of film. According to the notes accompanying the deleted scene on the dvd, they shot more than was scripted but it was dropped since it never conveyed  any new information to the viewer.

The sequence in question is one that takes place after Johan finds out he has been snared and entrapped. His response is to walk the streets of Riga, trying to grasp the situation that has befallen him. Isolation and persecution are the keywords here. We follow Johanthrough a few moments of empty desolate places. He is falling  apart it seems, connected to the first scene in his apartment, has a hard time to walk, sits down but can´t keep still as he is haunted, persecuted by people in a strange land.. We see Johan more human and fragile than before. But he has very little time to contemplate his situation as he is stalked through the "Streets of Riga" ( not Philadelphia!).

A real shame it is not there in the released dvd, at least in a branched version. It is presented in the deleted scenes section only. I mean, the need for every element to serve a narrative purpose to drive the story forward is crucial in an actionfilm, but I don´t think it would have hurt the film that much of letting it breathe at this point, letting the audience take in Johan Falks sense of isolation.

I like this shot. And the depth it conveys.

Man, it invokes some memories from watching  The Third Man. At least for me.

These last shots we sense him being tracked in these isolated environments that also gives a tremendous sense of depth. I find this atmospheric sequence quite unusual in action- cinema,  seems more impressionistic than realistic and it is a real shame that it was cut from the film. Oh well.

Instead we end up with a few lines to convey his travels through Riga. It feels a bit jarring from a continuity standpoint and also less cinematic when you have a character simply describing Falks travels rather than showing it. On the other hand, if I never saw the deleted sequence, would it still feel as  abrupt as it does now? A good question.to ask oneself. I will contemplate on this. A good Falkologist needs to be open-minded, so I will not grudge any longer. I am glad the scene exists on dvd for prosperity and for future Falkologists to ponder  and examine.

Just a final thought; I glanced through the pages to the shooting script and reading the scene as it was envisioned. In the script Falk  walks around "determined" and he seems to have a sort of plan , which is not what he is doing in this sequence. In the filmed scene he struggles to cope with the situation and is shown quite vulnerable. they made Falk more human, in the script he comes of as typically macho cocky. I am glad that this scene tries to get away from that.

Otherwise, Into the fire is one of the great entries in the series. It has an interesting ,suspenseful setup with some urgency built into it. But it also works very well by building up all this machinery of subplots underneath it without taking away the surface thriller enjoyment.

Next time on Johan Falk: A reunion from Executive protection.

tisdag 4 oktober 2016

The Importance of being Frank

Filmmaker Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys) discussed in  one interview ( I forgot which one) the role and purpose of the action hero in  conventional narrative form. The action hero is the one character  that stands outside of society´s norms. He represents the outsider. The society does not want anything to do with him or his values, like a Frankensteins monster. But when shit hits the fan they need him to protect the status quo.

This is similar to Frank Wagner who belongs nowhere , is an outcast among the cops and his own family who wants nothing to do with him. He is the outsider. But he is also  in a position to make a difference, to do something the law can not. And that is why we may need someone like Frank Wagner as much as we might despise it. Like Batman.

GSI has no problem using him to their own needs and when push comes to shove Frank actually is being left outside in order to protect status quo. Police officers are forbidden by law to use  civilian informers, but as the films shows us, is a morally grey area. Cops have their own moral code, like samurai, which they don´t want to break and it also makes them less credible as undercover informants. It is simply better to use someone who never took an oath. And does not need to break that vow  the officer has taken to society.

But when society needs him they come crawling back to him. He is  that Frankenstein-monster that Shane Black speaks of . Johan Falk in these last movie is less so.. Johan is conflicted. On one hand he is one of those types, but he has a firm belief in the law in some ways. He stands between Frank, the outsider and the acceptable society. Caught in between.

For further discussion, have anyone seen Blade-The series?  It was a shortlived television series based on the Marvel character that Wesley Snipes made so iconic. Played by Sticky Fingaz, the series dealt with  using an undercover vampire to infiltrate the vampire organization. It was a clever twist on the vampire formula, made it more like The Wire than comic book.. Krista (Jill Wagner) comes back from the Iraqui war only to find her brother  being quite dead, she immediately tries to find out, gets sucked (haha) into the vampire underworld and used by Blade as an informer. Her family gets more distressed and more and more distanced from her. 

Frank Wagner has similar personal problems, His family disappointed in him. they think he really is a criminal. And it is made even worse when the family consists of cops.  In Blade- the series we see a similar position. Seths gang wear a lot of leather just like vampires. Franks mother suffer similiar like Kristas gang of vampires but he, unlike Krista  cannot ressurect her. he is a more tragic character as he finds himself way more vulnerable. He is not a vampire, you know. But there is still of a disgust of him from the poeple around him and a lot of blame is given.

Blade-The series is in a way similar to the Johan Falk-series as it tries to deepen an already established world/universe by focusing it elsewhere rather than the main protagonist to enlighten certain topics or themes. Blade-The series shows us a vampiric world of betrayals and intrigue ,very humanlike and Macchiavellian in its nature. The Falk-series tries to look at the world in more shades of grey, than on villifying. Obviously you have to have a threat, and a real bad guy that is worse than Seth Rydell. But that is part of  dramaturgy. There needs to be a threat of some sorts that needs to be combated, but the two sides Rydell/Falk are not so easily distinguished. Both sides break the law, one of the sides try to defend the state and make it legitimate through its actions that is paradoxiaclly in starkt contrast to the democratic parliament rule that we now inhabit in Sweden.

Johan Falk as a character gets sidelined throughout most of the twelve episodes when Frank Wagner plays a part. And more often than not Frank is the propulsive force and Johan the passive part.. An interesting twist on the action movie formula, Johan Falk has been established as the main protagonist but is put in a  murkier position in which he is uncertain as how he should behave himself.

The idea of an outsider to help the established society to reinforce  the status quo ( democracy in this case) is known in plentiful of Westerns and has also been used subversively in the grim High plains drifter, a movie that deals with  civic courage or rather the lack of civic curage in a society, a topic Johan Falk is familiar with.

Finally, the reason for the outsider to remain an outsider is for  the simple purpose of society to actually  exist which may be problematic as this might suggest that democracy is so deeply flawed that we might need to resort to undemocratic methods to defend it.*

As Frank Wagners story concluded in Codename Lisa, Johan Falk will yet again become the focus point in the last five movies. And where will it lead him? We will just have to see.

*see also Christoper Nolans Batman-films and the reasoning behind covering up Dents true demise

söndag 8 maj 2016


This is perhaps my favourite Ninja movie of all time. Not only is it preposterous fun, but shows off some serious film making skills in the visual departments. Sit down and I will tell you a story of Ninja adventure.

But first, take a look at this crazy amazing opening title sequence:

Conan Lee plays the typical Jackie Chan persona. The loveable , mischeavous country boy who apparantly have  no greater concerns in the world. Just finding stuff to annoy people or play tricks on them. The great Hiroyuki Sanada plays a stoic-as-fuck Ninja travelling to China, coincidently enough to the same village Conan lee lives in, to exact revenge on a former ninja. That former Ninja also happens to be the Uncle to Conan. Wow, a lot of coincidences here,folks.

We get to see a few comedic scenes that sets up Conans character as a mischevious guy who likes to play tricks on people. There is a scene in which a bunch of spritual boxers perform and show off their remarkable spritual prowess as they show off in different ways how they´ve trained their bodies to withstand weaponry.

But as Connan comes in, humiliate the leader, starts a fight and ends it with kicking their leader´s ass it puts a real dent on an otherwise damn fine show. The leader promises that his dad is gonna get revenge. What a whiny bitch. I´d say fight your own battles,dipshit.

I don´t know if David Copperfield would have liked som joker comes in ruining the trick and the whole show for a paying audience. They did get to see some awesome kung fu so it could not have been a total waste.

We get to see Conan, the trickster, expose the fraud , that it was all deception, which is a larger theme in the movie. Part of Theme of being Ninja. Conan Lee can´t himself stand the religious zelots that blows smoke up peoples asses. Later he meet a ninja who throws smoke bombs at him. How do you like them apples?

This is a well shot film. Sometimes a lot of gorgeous imagery. Classic ninja imagery of light reflecting the blade:

But also use of mirrors in a scene to hint that the Uncles image as he has shown himself to Conan is just a mirror image of his true self of his guilty past long forgotten.

First time we see Uncle Ninja
Throughout the scene we only see his face through reflections. At least in the close ups A really nice visual touch.

Here are some more unusual images from the film.

One of my favourite shots. Ninja fights off other ninjas
as old ninja master visiting from Japan just sits not flinching a bit.

Deception and trickery are motifs that are used throughout the film in clever ways. And this has some strong film making talent behind it. Corey Yuen Kwai, known mostly as an action chreographer creates some stunning set pieces, very cinematically, stylish and inventive in a lot of ways.

The story is well told and there is no fat to it. It introduces the characters cleverly and visually so there is not a lot of abundance on dialogue. Of course the visuals are what HK action cinema is renowned for. But there is very little local humour that does not trancends as the tricks that are being played are part of the larger Ninja theme of tricks and deception. Who can fool who the most. Even his uncle has tricked him into believing he is just a loveable old fart. Ninjas wife is also surprisingly resourceful with her own bag of tricks up her sleeves as we are shown in a later scene.

The fight when Ninja is trapped inside the house is a masterpiece. It is Home ALone- Ninja Ediition as traps have being placed to trap him inside.Ninjalone. One tries to outdo the other in trickery. It is so much fun.

Here is a nice shot of when Ninja has vanquished all lights in the house and Conan Lee casts silver dust on him so Ninja becomes more visible:

This is do damn entertaining. Everyone seem to be playing tricks and deception even the most unexpected ones.

There are literally tons of nice visual touches to reflect trickery. In the end fight for example, Conan uses a white sheet to blend in whit the white backgrounds. A completely preposterous idea, but it works cinematically, I feel. The Ninja becomes Ninja´d as his trick are being played on him

The Ninja comes to China to avenge his fathers death as he ses Uncle responsible for the deed,but even this is not entirely  accurate . What he perceives as a revenge spree turns out the uncle was his fathers brother in arms. So even the plot indicates that what we perceive can be highly misleading and as chinese and japanese speak different languages things can be seen as misleading as one does not know how to communicate. As the scene in whch Uncle commits harakiri in front of Ninja, Conan Lee comes in and thinks he see Ninja kill his uncle, And now they communicate with fists and legs instead through words.

But then the deception continues as Ninja later reveals he understands Chinese perfectly but he did not let it up until at the part of te fight when they start torespect each other as he also reveals he knows kung fu. Technically wou could say that conan has shown his understanbding of Ninjitsu as he is a highly skilled trickster. The art of deception is what the sneaky fuck excels at.

That we learn this at the end of the movie is part of what makes the film enjoyable. I like that every detail is revealed in small portions throughout the movie which  makes you engaged with it better.Not everything is at it seems at first.  It has not a single dull moiment in it. It is as surprisingly competently  made as it is crazy. A perfect mix and a sign of a truly awesome movie. The kickass opening with the brillaint Ninja theme is so nuts and 80´s but sets you up in  the right mood.

If it has a .flaw it is the final confrontation between Conan and the religious zeölots in the final. It has hardly been built up or developed with the exception from one scene. But I guess those assholes makes a big deal out of being shown they are jerks. That one scene was almost an hour ago and by now at the end we have forgotten about them by now. Well, the priest or whatever he was promised revenge, so I guess having them as villains in the final fight as Conan and Ninja bonds against these asshats we  finally see them united in a fight. It is also in this fight when I feel it becomes too much standard hokey kung fu nonsense and the campy parts that have been doled out in perfect portions previously in the film  comes now into full force. It is a fun fight, more reminiscent of Looney Tunes than the truly great Ninja movie we ahve been watching, but not as clever as some of the stuff we have seen earlier in the film. Just hokey shenanigans. But it is kind of a backhanded complaint as there are some laughs to be had.

One final thought on the  villains. I guess  the spiritual boxers might represent something similar to deception like magicians they put on this big elaborate show for the masses and deceives them. And then as Conan comes along to kick their asses the whole business model fall aprt. I guess I can´t blame them for being mad.

This is one of the greatest ninja movies. Because as ludicrous as some parts in it are, it is a very competently made film in some aspects. Especially compared to a lot of other martial arts movies at the time.   Ninja in the Dragons den shows way more flair than your  usual kung fu movie .Using visual motifs that makes the film more engaging on an intellectual level even though the material is hardly intellectual. It shows flair in the filmmaking skills of Corey Yuen. He can direct movies as well as action that is for damn sure

The story, while not being unique, is told very well, effectively and enjoyable. And the whole deception/trickery moments of the film is so much fun. It really shows the Ninja and why this mythic character can be fun to watch .

See also  Revenge of The Ninja with Sho Kosugi for almost equally great Ninjery)

fredag 29 april 2016


Previously on Johan Falk:

The events in Organizatsija Karayan has opened up suspicions on the way the drug trafficking/white slavery trading or whatever these scumbags are up to have been constantly intercepted by Swedish Police. We got introduced to a shady mob guy named Dudajev, that runs the Karayan organization.

Another shady guy,scumbag lawyer Fredrixson who´ve we have seen before exactly as a scumbag lawyer to Nicolas Lehman in Executive Protection, has come across some information that Dudajev would possibly be interested in. About a certain informer

Frank Wagner and family is temporarily in Gothenburg to resolve some final issues before starting a new life in France. With them they have a shitton of money.

Stuff gets real.


The cat is out of the bag or something like that. Frank Wagners secret identity as informer/infiltrator is now known to the crimnal underworld.

Asshole  assailants attack Frank Wagners family at their apartment. Frank shoots one of them point blank in the head,they flee, leave all their money and possessions behind. They seek shelter at Johan Falks house. Now they need for the GSI to live up to their promise and give them new identities.

Also, Sophie gets shot by unknown men in masks. What is going on?

But the leadership, the higherups do not believe that Frank should get away from what he has done, despite the blessings and the silent approval. They want to indict him. Ungrateful bastards.So Frank says fuck y´all and escapes. Now desperate, seperated from his family, hunted like an animal. What can he do?

Johan Falk and the GSI are figuring out how that information can have come into the wrong hands.
And it is not only Franks identity. the identities and personal information of GSI are out. That is why they attacked Sophie. And now target the families to get to Frank.

Jibber jabber:

This one feels more cinematic. It played theatrically in Sweden, which I can understand. It has more production values over it. The opening credits are more elaborate than usual, with close ups on Dudajev and flashes on case file reports in which Lisa ( Frank Wagners code name in the reports) has been part of accompanied by Bengt Nilssons  as usual great music that weaves different themes from the past harking back to Executive Protections haunting Oh crisuts valgus with the more recent ones.

It works also as a collage, a resumé of what has happened before. Remember Sam Raimis Spider-Man intros that had these animated events from previous films? This is kind of similar. I guess Frank Wagner is kind of a super hero, leading double lives :he  is Infiltrator-Man. That actually sounds horrible. I am glad he is not called that.

Speaking of production values ,there are some gorgeous shots  in Codename Lisa of Gothenburg:
If you stare to deeply into Gothenburg, then Gothenburg stares back at you

This is from the climax in which Wagner and GSI has setup a trap with him as bait. Here he prepares for walking into the criminal underbelly, into a gauntlet of sorts to lure out the foreign gangsters that are targeting Frank and GSI in order to get to them

This is the second movie (The Outlawed was the first) in which everything built up culminates in a confrontation. Both with the criminals but also with the law on the opposing side. Both targets the GSI and their methods. The consequences are now apparent. Like in The Outlawed, the bosses are not prepared to go the distance to stand up for something that was silently approved. But here it is less about hanging out GSI to dry for the media and more about not acceppting a civilian infiltrator that has killed people. they feel not obligated to live up to any deal that has been made. A Catch 22 situation here. The problem is, the reason why Frank has been so successful infiltrating is because he made those choices, did some awful stuff that solidified him as a believable hard ass in the eyes of the criminal underworld. GSI would not have gotten that type of information otherwise. It is a bit of a moral conundrum, but if you are dealing with  infiltartors you need to go all the way in order to be successful. And it does not exactly fit in in a modern democratic society. Is it really possible for a government to officially approve those methods without endangering democracy? 

As a result, when the heat starts to get turned up, the higher ups bail like chicken shits. Now, Franks position is so extraordinary, he is caught between two worlds, often opposed one another, but not always. He is the result of that. Caught in the middle of the acceptable society and the shady underworld that does not abide to some codes or laws other than the cheap value of human life. And in the eyes of the law it seem certain human life is not worth much either.

As I have written before, great crime dramas always show the more murky real life aspects of cops vs robbers. They may be two sides of the same coin in reality, and sometimes depending of how the coins is flipped it can come up either way depending of the circumstances. Johan Falks actions in the past has been highly questionable, now he stands up for an outlaw.

And in the end when they´ve caught Dudajev, Dudajev threatens to kill Frank and his family when he gets out. Frank prepares to shoot him, but Johan straight up executes Dudajev in his place. Making sure Frank can get away. Johan has done some questionable stuff in the past, but never executed someone before. We will see the consequences in later films.

Code name Lisa is one of the best entries in the series up until this point in the series. If not the best. It is highly exciting and thrilling as everything  in the bigger narrative  has been built up and explodes into a very enjoyable thriller. Rivaling Zero Tolerance and Executve Protection. It has some of the production values of Zero Tolerance, with great visuals of Gothenburg and the relentless suspense from Executive Protection.

I still feel that Falk has been for the most part of the series left a bit on the side.. He has not punched telephones into peoples faces, nor has he pistol whipped them into broken windowframes. But I guess I can´t get everything in life. What we have gotten so far is  a great infusion of crime drama meld with the action films aestethic from the first three outings.

Frank Wagner and family says bye bye.

But what happened to Frank really? Well I figured he settled down in France, but I found this image. What the hell is this:

That guy looks suspiciously like Frank Wagner. Playing videogames with President Frank Underwood? On further invetigations on the matter it turns out his name is Will Conway, a republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Does this mean Frank Wagner pulled a fast one on the American people? Are they going to vote for a former police informant from Sweden? I am curious how he has managed to keep this under the wraps. Not to mention what an idiot he must have been as he has a  pricetag on his life. .But it could also be a masterstroke on his part. Nobody fucks with a President or even a Presidential Candidate. He has more protection now than ever. I´ll take Secret Service over that shit that was the Swedish Police.They took care of him badly considering what he´d done for them.  It would be pretty funny if he´d won the election and he could come back to Sweden on a visit and push around the Swedish security as he saw fit.

I am curious to Seth Rydells reaction as he switch on the morning news and see this guys face on the telly. From Vice President in Rydells "Kalasklubb" to  Presidential Candidate of the goddamn United States of America.

That is quite  a success story.

Next time on Johan Falk:  Some sort of retrospective  of the series so far which delves more into "Falkology"

tisdag 26 april 2016

Small ramblings: BOUND from 1996

Bound is a real interesting piece of art. It is a clear genre piece. It is film noir. But also neo noir as it breaks the mould. Deconstructs the genre. It elevates itself by breaking genre conventions, making them stand on their head .It  breaks the mould a bit from conventions in terms of the femme fatale archetype being reused here for a different purpose. 

Lesbians have been dealt a pretty rough hand by Hollywood. Depicted as manipulative and devious in films like Basic Instinct, the femme fatale in that one was just an updated version., seemingly meant to accomodate modern viewers, but it failed in one particual aspect; treating the archetype as just the same. It was nothing new or groundbreaking. It just came out as mean spirited towards the lesbian or bisexual community.

But a  few years later came Bound.

The brainchild of Andy and Larry (later to become Lana) Wachowski, they crafted a clever genre piece to stand conventions on their head in a smart and new way especially dealing with the femme fatale.  Making the new modern version of the femme fatale that Basic Instinct never could or was smart enough to conceive.


Corky (Gina Gershon) is just out of jail and in an elevator she comes across her new neighbour Violet (Jennifer Tilly) a gangsters moll who then proceeds seducing  Corky to concoct a scheme to steal money from Violets husband Ceasar (Joe Pantoliano) and run away from him.

Stuff to talk about:

At my newest viewing I feel Bound might be the most progressive, at least at the time, deptiction of lesbians. They are not portrayed as evil, Having girl-to-girl sex is not shameful, the film revels in the scenes like it should. It is okey for girls to have sexual experiences with each other if they so please. It never feels exploitative. In fact I get the feeling the scenes are liberating more than anything. And as they are only a small part of the movie in the beginning it sets up these two women as unapologetically attracted to each other. They are not portrayed as  decadent. Just two women really liking each other.

Lines like: " I am not apologizing to what I did to you. I am apologizing to what I did not do to you" after being abrupted by Violets husband Ceasar. If that is not unapologetic towards her sexuality I do not know what is.

But it is also about a women trying to free herself from a male oriented world. Violet, as the typical femme fatale is the real hero, or protagonist here. She is the more resourceful character of the two. Corky spends a large time behind the scenes waiting to see how things are played out.

I think Bound plays a lot of genre conventions and expectations. Tweaking the femme fatale character into a more likeable character by presenting us with the despicable world she is trapped within and the incredibly possessive nature of Ceasar makes the viewer feel empathy for her. It is not like in The Last Seduction, another great 90´s neo noir classic, that shows instead how fucking lame and dumb the male lead is,getting snared into the sexy smart ladys trap. It was a great neo noir and deconstruction. But I think this one is perhaps more relevant.

And though the "lesbian couple"  are indeed manipulative, as Basic Instinct "taught " us about lesbians, they are clearly the less of evils here. The macho bullshit patriarchy of the Mob is confronted here. nd we are presnted with two much more likeable characters as opposed to the others.

Violet  the femme fetale. Dressed in black, with black hair, is the one who sets everything up. Seduces Corky into her world. She motivates Corky. Corky is also the "masculine" female, the male equilaent of this movie. With tattoos and attitudes she is different from Violet. But they like leather jackets both.Good to have things in common.

Here is their introduction. It is cinematic as fuck.Words are not needed:

And here we see "masculine" Corky in a male tank top (wife beater shirt):

The person who thinks lesbian living being deviant or sickening is the alphamale part of a patriarchal socirty in which deviant sexual orientations are not even on the map. Ceasar., the possessive fuck who will not let Violet out of his sight. And  maybe that is why he is so surprised at the revelation? What a dumbass.

Here we are presented with a different  depiction and attitude towards the femme fatale archetype rather than the victims of her actions. The dumbass in this one is caught up in a macho bullshit discourse and as a result he is helpless to counter it until it is too late. Not the one trapped in the web of a treacheous woman, really. He only has himself to blame. Which is what also the previously mentioned neo noir classic The Last Seduction taught us.

Bound is a real fucking great movie. Twenty years on this year. it still remains a piece of my heart as a thrilling ,suspenseful genre movie. But also deals in sexual politics in more clever ways than most people would expect which make sthis movie even more relevant and intelligent. If people just could see past the tits....

This is one of the great ones in my opinion. One that is both subversive but also a helluva lot of fun. Blue is the warmest color is apparantly a great movie depicting the topic but here we have an entertainng genre piece that deals with similir topics, is subversive and it totally works. Which is the winner here?

lördag 23 april 2016


Previously on Johan Falk:

A much larger organization shows its face. No, it is not SPECTRE. Johan Falks family gets involved leading to Falk taking matters in his own hands, defending his family.

Seth Rydell and his handler Sophie is on a collision course as he pulled a fast one on her, making her responsible for getting a criminal killed.

It starts off in medias res, or at the end of the story. Johan Falk gets shot in the neck by Simon. Then back to the beginning of the story. (Way to  spoil a movie.  What if M Night Shyamalan did that with his movies...?)

Someone is selling pre-prepped robberings. Someone from Seths past. A gang of youths pulls off a heist but fails to get rid of the ink in the moneybags. Now they need someone to wash the papers free from any of that particular Color of Incrimination. And one of those people is a fifteen year old kid named Simon

This story is about how juvenile delinquents are being used on both sides as robbers or as infiltrators or undercover informants. It is as questionable as it can get. And it creates a rift between the members of GSI.

A lot of the small time criminals in this one comes from white trash families without any real future. Especially a boy who has to suffer the acts of his parents,

Jibber jabber:

GSI involves one of their new guys into the way a handler manages an informer . Like an observer. Watch and learn. His name is Vidar (Mårten Svedberg) and has been like the moral voice of the series, questioning the tactics of GSI. I don´t know, for the most part he has been a whiny bitch. Instead of contributing with constructive feedback he has only been grumpy about the culture. And to be honest a bit of a nay-sayer. His partner Niklas ( Alexander Karim) actually tells him if he does not like it here he can leave. Which is a good response. Vidar whines a bit.

I mean, I don´t blame Vidar really. It is perfectly natural to look at GSI and what they are doing and have been doing as non-constitutional and highly questionable. I think in this movie, Vidar draws a line that I think most of us agree with. It is not ok using kids like Simon. Someone who has had shitty parents should not suffer the consequences . Johan is also kind of on board with this. He does not care for using minors. Although technically as Simon is fifteen he is legally responsible, the real world does not deal in numbers. It is muddy to say the least

If you are not uneasy about this, you should think twice what this can do in the long run. As soon as something becomes acceptable there is no way turning back,

Simons parents pulled an insurance fraud scheme leaving him taking the shit storm.an original sin if you will, hence he has to do all this stuff as he is more or less ostracized from society as he is up to his neck with debts.

This is a nice  different take on the depiction of criminality. The type of white trash parents a kid cannot be blamed for having, neither can he be blamed for their short comings as he is getting the short end of the stick from society.

Some backstory to Seths past is revealed as he confronts the person behind selling the robbery plans. A finnish jerkoff named Heiki. Old conflicts lead to tragedy as Heiki kills Seths younger brother in the climax. We also get more of Sophies and Seth relationship deepening. She has been duped by him in previous film, but now she needs to set things straight and actually starts to manage the situation

At the end of the film, when the obligatory shootout happens Simon flees from the scene, Johan follows him. Simon shoots Falk because he is scared. And who wouldn´t be in his situation?

When Falk gets shot he also ends up lying on his back shooting the bad guy .This reminds me of the end toThe Thrid Wave. But that time he was shot in the head with rubber bullets (oww...) and now in the neck with a real bullet (argh...), but like real movie cops he takes it like a man, gets some bandages and walk it off. Well, sort of.

Here is a comparison

The shooting takes place in a dark basement rather than a open street of turmoil in Germany. He is not saving Europe or his family, but rather perhaps more importantly, a child put into a life situation he has had no choice of. By saving this kid, he sorts of redeems himself with all the shit he put Frank Wagner through. It is less selfish and more about sacrifice for greater things.

I like to see recurring stuff in a series and compare them. Falk at the end of Third Wave protected his family  by shooting the bad guy as he promised in the first act of that movie in a monologue.. Here, with all the murky, shady GSI bullshit going on  he seem to come through a bit here. Some light in the shadows of this underworld is trickling through. Kind of nice. 

Patrik Agrell , his boss, asks Johan Falk why he never pulled the trigger at Simon as he clearly threatened a police officer. Falk responds with  just because the police fuck up, shouldn´t mean someone else should lose their life.  In The Third Wave he protected his own self interests, now he protects the integrity of the police force. Funny how things work out. Maybe it is a maturity thing , I don´t know.

I am just guessing here. But I feel we have met a different Falk now in some ways. He is more protective of his surroundings and has saved his family more than once, He saved Nina in the previous film as well he got married. Now he has responsibilities and perhaps now he can see beyond his tunnel vision that he had in the past. I like that. I am not sure the old Johan of Zero Tolerance or Executive Protection would be so aware of other people or their predicaments. It seems like his tunnel vision has extended a bit, looking past the blinders  into the deep blue eyes of life.

Jesus that last part was such horse hit. Do not read that!!

Great crime dramas always explore the thin line between cops and bad guys. Here we clearly see people being taken advantage of on both sides. 

My big compaint is there should have been more shootings. There, I said it. 

Next Time on Johan Falk: Shit gets real in one of the finest installments in the series.