Director: Baltasar Kormákur, Baldvin Z, Börkur Sigthorsson, Óskar Thor Axelsson
Written by: Sigurjón Kjartansson, Clive Bradley
Starring: Olafur Darri Olafsson, Ingvar Sigurosson, Nina Dogg Filipusdottir
Duration: 10 episodes, 52 minutes each
BBFC Certification: 15
Being a big fan of the Scandi-noir genre I was looking forward to seeing this, but of course I don’t want to be seen as prejudicial. It’s difficult though when all the tropes, new as they are, are in place almost from the off: dark imagery, washed-out interior scenes, emotional complexity, a tension between large-scale unpleasantness in society and the minutiae of everyday life in properly rounded characters. Check, check, check, check and check.
The title, as one would expect, has multiple layers of meaning. Initially the passengers of a ferry, harking from Copenhagen (hence the presence of the shady captain of Bjarne Henriksen from the Killing) are all restricted to the ship after it comes into our Icelandic port – pretty much bobbing alongside a fresh torso.
In the first few episodes odd things occur – as is so often the way in a Scandi drama – not on a large scale, but just slightly off the beat. If you weren’t paying attention you would miss small sign posts, which adds to the richness of the story and are slowly revealed over the ten episodes.
And there is no sticking with super-handsome leads in Trapped either. Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, as the skilled, yet slightly cavalier and perhaps a bit haphazard chief of police in this tiny outpost (why is he there? we wonder), is in no way handsome – his six pack being very much hidden for a number of years. Likewise his two cohorts look and behave like ‘real people’.
The first villain, very much an introductory baddie, is a Lithuanian mobster. If I had one criticism it would be his rather cartoon-like appearance and behaviour. But there is more at stake – the larger issue in this drama is around the potential for huge Chinese investment to make the small village a super harbour in the East-West sea routes between China and the US.
Another strand is what kicks off the whole situation – a mysterious fire, which claims the life of a young woman, related to a number of the protagonists, and the reappearance on the ferry of the surviving boyfriend. Cue misunderstandings and some traumatic, but well-acted, scenes.
If you are looking for a whizz-bang adventure-filled action series, this is not it. Plus, why are you reading a review of a Scandi-drama? But for a combination of thought-provoking emotional interaction and a good mystery yarn (more than one really) this is for you. The fact that the characters are so good only adds to it. Did I mention I was a fan of this genre?
The plot is a complex tapestry – I haven’t yet even alluded to the human trafficking angle, the humour inherent in the owner of the fish factory and his reluctance to have a limbless, headless torso in the cold store of his place of business (what’s wrong with him?), the chief of police’s family potentially leaving permanently…and more.
It’s a worthy addition to the cannon of The Killing and The Bridge (and no, I can’t make a comparison to The Tunnel, because that just seems too silly as a copycat – although I have heard it’s good….).
One last character my wife and I enjoyed (that I am going to specifically mention anyway). Whilst the village is itself trapped, cut off from the rest of Iceland by the weather and impassable roads, the chief of police has to liaise with a former colleague in Reykjavik. He is played, rather deliciously, as a bit of an ego monster, by Björn Hlynur Haraldsson.
Trapped is the most expensive television series ever made in Iceland, with overall costs estimated to be about €6,500,000. It’s all on the screen.
TRAPPED was released on DVD & Blu-Ray Monday 11th April through Arrow Films and Nordic Noir & Beyond.