The Killing - First two episodes (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
FIRST off, I have to admit to not having seen the acclaimed Danish original TV series upon which this US remake of The Killing is based. So, with this in mind I have to say I was deeply impressed with these first two episodes.
Though set in Seattle, this AMC re-do employs a European sensibility in look and design that reminded me of the BBC’s Wallander as well as, to a lesser degree, David Fincher’s Se7en.
Like Mad Men, the programme for which AMC is now famed, it also didn’t talk down to its viewers, rather setting things up in slow, deliberate fashion and treating every character as an individual worth getting to know.
The plot follows a similar path and is focused on the disappearance and subsequent murder of teenager Rosie Larsen, the daughter of Stan (Brent Sexton) and Mitch (Michelle Forbes).
Heading the investigation is Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos), a strong, silent female detective who wants to leave Seattle for a new life in California, but whose sense of decency and intrigue requires her to stay.
Joining her, meanwhile, is the young, brash partner – Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) – who is supposed to be replacing her.
Together, they make an intriguing chalk and cheese partnership – the former silently analysing situations as they play out before her with a piercing stare, the latter employing more hot-headed techniques to cut to the chase of a scenario.
Again, it reminded me somewhat of the relationship between Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt’s characters in Se7en – with Kinnaman’s desperate to impress young rookie very similar to Pitt. Perhaps the rain-swept Seattle locations also helped to draw those comparisons.
But The Killing is very much its own beast. Thus far, the investigation is only on day 2. Day 1 established there was a murder to investigate, while day 2 set about providing some disturbing clues and some intriguing characters.
Although no obvious contender has emerged as yet, a developing side-plot involving slick mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) and his team looks almost certain to play a big part (given that Rosie’s body was eventually discovered in one of his campaign cars), while several of Rosie’s friends from college also seem to be acting shadily.
But episodes one and two was more content to establish possibilities, while dropping fascinating titbits about the central characters.
Enos and Kinnaman look set to become a fascinating partnership and I already look forward to seeing how their relationship develops, while Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes were similarly excellent as the distraught mother and father slowly coming to terms with the news of their daughter’s murder. It’s a measure of the show’s quality, thus far, that Rosie’s loss is sorely felt – and much of the credit for that belongs to the latter two actors.
Impressive, too, were the atmospheric production values, which add a nice sense of foreboding, and the slick script, which treated its viewers as adults without feeling the need to spell things out for them.
I’m told that the Danish version was even more sparse and, perhaps, even more impressive. But so far, this American remake fits the bill superbly. It already has me hooked.
The Killing is on Channel 4 on Thursday nights from 9pm..