sun 21/07/2024

Before We Die, Channel 4 review - underwhelming and unengaging Scandi noir | reviews, news & interviews

Before We Die, Channel 4 review - underwhelming and unengaging Scandi noir

Before We Die, Channel 4 review - underwhelming and unengaging Scandi noir

Swedish crime drama offers dull production and a meandering plot

Marie Richardson is the humourless Hanna Svensson, who specialises in fretting and regretting

The new import is the latest procedural from Scandinavia, this time focusing on Stockholm’s biker gangs. The first episode aired Tuesday night, with the rest of the series available on All4 now.

In the age of the boxset binge, this availability is usually a gift - but Before We Die’s forgettable first episode might struggle to convince viewers to log on and continue.

We first met killjoy cop Hanna Svensson on a drugs bust – more specifically, arresting her own son Christian for dealing at a house party. After a rather low-key confrontation, he was taken away and she was left crying in the car. Two years later, Svensson’s moved on and found love with her married colleague Sven. However, after Sven’s sudden disappearance, Svensson was on the case to find her missing lover, while trying to reconnect with her recently released son (there were a lot of Svens and sons flying around).

Shaky camerawork alone cannot build tension - nor can the invasively moody soundtrack

There’s been talk of Before We Die being Sweden’s answer to Sons of Anarchy; watching it felt a lot closer to a Scandi The Bill. The investigation into Sven’s disappearance was lazily developed, with each discovery made by coincidence: Hanna happens to find Sven’s phone in the street; she knocks over the secret file of investigation notes; a suspect literally had his Mobster connections signposted on a big poster. The Mobsters, by the way, is the imaginative name of one of the gangs.

The entire episode skipped along with little purpose. Supposedly the main story will follow the son becoming informant to his own mother on a secretive international crime syndicate. Sounds promising, but there was no indication of this in the opening hour. Mostly just police wandering around with photos of Sven, and talking to bikers ripped from a particularly forgettable Grand Theft Auto mission.Adam Pallson in Before We DieThere was little of the Scandinavian flair for filmmaking either – more reminiscent of British Noughties primetime TV. Shaky camerawork alone cannot build tension – nor can the invasively moody soundtrack, constantly punctuating any car drive or solemn look as if apologising for the boring presentation. Perhaps most bafflingly, during the car chase finale, the music plodded along like it hadn’t noticed the action.

This whole sequence felt out of place. A chase involving a sensible Volvo estate doesn’t feel particularly Hollywood, even when hitting one of those pesky countryside stunt ramps. It was less Casino Royale’s Aston Martin flip, and more Richard Hillman’s canal crash from Coronation Street. It perfectly summed up an hour of television that was logically flawed and unimaginatively presented. Good luck to those logging on to see if that promising premise pays off.


An hour of television that was logically flawed and unimaginatively presented


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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A rubbish critical review , this series was tense and exciting from the beginning , well acted and directed

Wow - what a dreadful quality review. The whole point of the series was to gradually morph from the familiar crime format to a more personal and rule-breaking outcome for the players. Maybe watch more than one episode before reviewing a series? Particularly when you've just noted the whole series is accessible - no need to be lazy.

TV dramas are ten a penny at the moment, therefore I found it delightful that a single season drama was well written and suspenseful until the end. This review is garbage as there is enough drama in the first episode and the whole season moves at a pace unaccustomed to your typical TV drama show; perhaps the author of the review was in a bad mood as I cannot understand why they found the first episode so bad. Regardless, the series moves along at a cracking pace whipping up the tension and I would highly recommend it.

Best TV series I’ve seen since the Bridge - terrible review

I have watched both seasons 1 &2 .. there were plenty of twists to keep you hooked but i was frustrated at times with the implausibility of what happens...not the usual scandi flair..certainly not as good as the Bridge /killing etc.

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