Film Review – Those Who Kill: Shadow Of The Past

Those Who Kill: Shadow Of The Past

Directed by: Birger Larsen

Starring: Jakob Cedergren, Laura Bach, Simon Kvamm

Two and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Take the number of recent television cop shows, calculate how many seasons each one has aired for and take into account how many episodes per season. That’s a lot of detective work and police sleuthing. Any film that takes on the overly familiar police procedural storyline would have to come up with something pretty special to stand out from any given weeknight’s TV programming.

Despite being a follow on from a television series with the same name (think what they did with The X-Files series and films), the difference between this cinematic effort and Law and Order, CSI, NCIS (the list goes on) is the foreign language. Reading subtitles while watching a cop and a psychiatrist solve grizzly murders is the only novel value in this retread of familiar cop show clichés. In fact, shave a few time-consuming clichés from this film and it could easily slip into an hour time slot during prime time.

Just after he hands in his resignation to leave the Copenhagen police force, legal psychiatrist Thomas Schaeffer (Jakob Cedergren) is put on his last case with his partner detective Katrine Ries Jensen (Laura Bach) in which a man has shot and killed the driver and several passengers of a public bus. Thomas begins to recognise the criminal behaviour – the crime scene resembles the graphic sketch of a disturbed former patient Kristian (Simon Kvamm) who was recently released from a ridiculously short prison term for throwing a young woman off a bridge and killing her. But there are more sketches and the killings will continue unless he is stopped.

It becomes a case of count the clichés as something more romantic between Thomas and Katrine is alluded to, Thomas’ pregnant wife and young son are targeted by the deranged killer and the suggestion that the final case will be the toughest yet. Perhaps there is something lost on audiences that did not manage to catch the 10-part 2010 series this film wraps up. It assumes we have already made a connection to these characters, played by an admittedly appealing cast, and continues to storm ahead with a plot that leaves character development in its dust. The killer is a particularly nasty one with murder scenes that rival those stomach churning ones from Se7en, but precious little time is spent expanding upon this one-dimensional villain.

The scriptwriters shoehorn a couple of neat twists into the final moments that liven up the climax, but getting to this point via a slew of familiar elements is a slog despite the zippy pace and moments of tension breaking humour. It might be suited better to a night in front of the idiot box, but as a cinematic experience, it is lacking.

Those Who Kill: Shadow Of The Past screens as part of  Revelation Perth International Film Festival on July 14.

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