From the home of Trapped, The Killing, Beck, River and Lilyhammer – a company called Nordic Noir, funnily enough – comes Modus, an edgy Swedish police thriller based on Anne Holt’s best-selling novels. Why Modus? Because it comes from modus operandi – a criminal’s signature style of operating. In Modus, the crime is murder – lots of them.
Inger Johanne Vik, a psychologist and former profiler for the FBI, teams up with Ingvar Nymann, a Stockholm detective, to solve the case after she is unwittingly drawn into the cycle of vicious killings, which take place during the Christmas period. Vik also has an autistic daughter, Stina, whom she needs to protect because Stina witnessed the first murder – this becomes increasingly urgent as Vik and Nymann discover the murderer, a creepy Swede who lives in a shabby caravan, is connected to a ruthless American religious sect seemingly hellbent on terrorising Stockholm with a wave of hate crime. And as they get ever closer to arresting the serial killer, Vik realises her family could be the next victims.
So far, so very PC – the victims are gay, sex workers, disabled. The clichés run thick and fast though. Why are the Yanks targeting Sweden? Because they have a permissive society, duh! Nasty Swedes, allowing the gays to flourish. And therein lies Modus’s downfall – stereotyping runs amok. It’s a shame, because the tensions run high in every episode, even in the silliest moments, and it’s certainly atmospheric. And Modus examines important issues – tolerance, freedom, religious belief, love and family loyalties. Plus of course, Sweden looks beautiful yet menacing – a prerequisite for every scandi-noir ever.
Also to note – very annoyingly, our two crime-solvers have nearly identical names so if you’re not paying super-sharp attention confusion will reign. Also annoying: truly awful American accents – did the budget not run to a voice coach? And, despite Modus having cast members from The Bridge and Wallander, it’s not in the same league. That said, it’s a decent slice of scandi-noir for anyone needing a fix.
• In Swedish, with English subtitles. Also available on Blu-ray.