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Review: Second entry in crime trilogy, ‘The Absent One’ is equal to the task

Danica Curcic in the movie "Department Q: The Absent One."
(Sundance Selects)

Closely adhering to the classy template established the previous year with “The Keeper of Lost Causes,” 2014’s “Department Q: The Absent One” is an equally smart crime thriller that takes another unsavory journey into contemporary Denmark’s seamier underbelly.

Experiencing a cold snap after their first big cold case coup, Department Q partners Carl Morck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and Assad (Fares Fares) get back to business after reopening a 20-year-old investigation into the murder of a pair of boarding school students.

While the police originally received a confession from their killer, his relatively light jail sentence has Carl convinced that something’s rotten in Denmark, contending a nefarious cover-up could be in play.

Their ensuing probe takes them from the idyllic rural countryside to the drug-addled inner city, where an elusive homeless woman (Danica Curcic) either played a role in the killings or might know the identity of any accomplices.

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Once again, director Mikkel Nørgaard, working with “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” screenwriters Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, has turned the Jussi Adler-Olsen novel into a highly watchable if, slightly overlong, potboiler that adroitly negotiates past and present storylines.

Although Nørgaard is correct in ascribing a “‘Chinatown’ meets ‘Clockwork Orange’” feel to the film, with its themes of corruption, class privilege, power and youthful passion, the success of “The Absent One,” like its Department Q predecessor, ultimately rides on the shoulders of Kaas’ intriguing Morck.

He’s as glum as ever, but there’s a telltale crack of fragility lurking behind that stone-faced determination.

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‘Department Q: The Absent One’

In Danish with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 2 hours, 1 minute

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Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood


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