Review: Second entry in crime trilogy, ‘The Absent One’ is equal to the task
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.
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.
‘Department Q: The Absent One’
In Danish with English subtitles
Running time: 2 hours, 1 minute
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood
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