Hans Olav’s Secret
Norwegian police thriller Borderliner is the perfect example of how to take an interesting premise and squander any ambition with a questionable ending, clumsy pacing and incredulous character logic. Early on, Borderliner holds a lot of promise and the story works well; the cat and mouse game between Nikolai (Tobias Santelmann) and Anniken (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) is intriguing enough to keep you watching, helped along by some impressive cinematography. It’s a shame then that Borderliner slips up multiple times, leaving big plot holes in its wake as the story quickly spirals out of control.
Straight and narrow police detective Nikolai is the main protagonist here and early on we see him stand up for what he believes in, testifying against a fellow colleague. After being called to a crime scene down by a murky lake, mystery surrounds the death of a man tied up by rope around his neck made to look like suicide. Convinced foul play is afoot, Nikolai sets out with his colleague Anniken to investigate further before stumbling on a key piece of evidence to back up his theory. When Nikolai’s brother Lars (Benjamin Helstad) confesses to the crime in private, Nikolai decides to protect him and what ensues is a game of cat and mouse as the two brothers work to avoid the police closing in on the real suspect while Nikolai keeps a brave face at work and tries to steer the investigation away from his brother.
As a thriller, Borderliner certainly has its moments and each episode ends on a cliffhanger too, enticing you to keep watching through to the next episode. There’s a good array of characters here although the deeper into the series you get the more frustrating it becomes to watch Nikolai and Lars jump from one incredulously illogical decision to the next to try and throw the police off their scent. This could almost be forgiven if Nikolai wasn’t such a focal point through the series, throwing some serious questions up whether it may have benefited Borderliner’s integrity by switching the perspective to spunky Anniken instead.
Her character is by far the most compelling and although she does nail a lot of the conventional tropes you’d expect from a police detective in a series like this, she’s by far the easiest to root for as she tries to get to solve the murder case under the anxious, watchful eyes of Nikolai. Within the thriller format, a homosexual sub plot is nestled within the episodes although at times it does feel more contrived and ham-fisted into the narrative than it perhaps should be.
With numerous plot holes, a clumsy pacing and a truly woeful ending, Borderliner is a disappointing police thriller to say the least. The illogical character actions don’t help either and large stretches of this Norwegian series feels dragged out unnecessarily. A couple of episodes less and a switched perspective to Anniken as the main protagonist may well have benefited this series, especially given the slickness to the camera work that graces large stretches of this 8 episode series. Whether there’ll be more of this story to come in the future is anyone’s guess but based on what’s here, Borderliner ends with far too many unanswered questions making it a difficult one to recommend, even if the journey to the finale is mildly entertaining.
Verdict - 5/10