Young Wallander is a pretty good show. It’s one of those perfectly serviceable crime dramas that does just enough to keep you watching through until the end. Despite ticking most of the boxes, Young Wallander brings with it an overwhelming feel that this could have been so much more. After all, a series gravitating around the background of this moody Swedish cop had a lot of potential.
To back-track, Young Wallander is a series revolving around the early life of Swedish cop Kurt Wallander. For those unaware, this show ran between 2008 and 2016. It achieved critical success in the UK and is certainly highly regarded among crime drama enthusiasts.
Young Wallander then is not an award-winning drama. Nor is it a particularly outstanding entry into the crime genre. Instead, this serves as a re-imagining of the moody detective with some questionable tonal choices juxtaposes against a gritty storyline. There’s certainly enough here to like but those looking for something hitting the highs the original series did will be disappointed.
Set in the heart of Sweden, Young Wallander’s predominantly British cast is certainly a bizarre stylistic choice. At times this does feel jarring, especially given Kurt Wallander is the only actor with a hint of Swedish in his voice. I’d imagine this was done intentionally to enhance that feel of him being an outsider but it doesn’t quite work as well as perhaps intended.
As with any good crime drama, the meat and potatoes here comes from the story. The narrative begins simply enough, with a hate crime and a literal explosion to jolt our detective into action. Joining him are fellow detectives Hemberg and Frida Rask who both prop up the three-person ensemble.
After an initial scene setter, the series progresses to introduce millionaire Gustav Munck and his family, along with two rival gangs. All of this somehow stands in the foreground against the shadow of a dealer known as Dodo.
It’s a suitably messy, entangled knot of conspiratorial questions and ideas. Eventually this knot is untangled and with it, a clearer understanding of what’s going on toward the end of the series.
The twist during episode 5 is good and there’s certainly a good degree of red herrings used nicely through this show to catch you off-guard. Having said that, there are a couple of plot contrivances and convenient set pieces that hold this back from being more daring.
That’s to say nothing of the characters either who are just… here. None of them really stand out, there’s not much charisma and almost every single character serves a very simple but ultimately unremarkable arc. When it comes to crime dramas, Young Wallander just kind of dances around the outskirts without really drawing that much attention to itself.
Therein lies the biggest problem with this series. There’s nothing bad or outright terrible about this, but there’s also nothing that really stands out and challenges. A couple of nice twists and shocking moments are enough to prop this up above mediocrity – but only just.
Those expecting something closer to the original Wallander series however, will be left disappointed. If you’re in the mood for a crime thriller that just about whets the appetite though, this is worth a watch.