Based on Danish author, Jussi Adler-Olsen’s bestselling crime thrillers, the riveting Department Q series has become one of Denmark’s most popular cinematic exports. The entire series has been released on video on demand (through Netflix). This series needs more visibility and exposure–it is a viewing must!
A heart-pounding series of ingenious twists and shocking surprises, the trilogy–The Keeper of Lost Causes ( 2013), The Absent One (2014) and A Conspiracy of Faith (2016)–involves three cold cases no one else expects to resolve. Detective Carl Mørck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his partner, the Arab Danish officer Assad (Fares Fares), shrewdly undertake cold cases with seemingly dead ends. No clues, no suspect.
That is the core appeal of these three two-hour police thrillers. Each of the three films tells a discrete story, and one doesn’t require viewing to understand the other two. Nonetheless, I highly recommend seeing them in the order of production (“The Keeper of Lost Causes” first) because the relationship between Mørck and Assad builds and becomes quite an unusual complementarity of personalities, not the usual buddy-cop story line.
The protagonist, Mørck, seems at first like a stereotypical lone-wolf detective. He is bitterly resigned to cold cases in the basement–Department Q. Soon Mørck and Assad are defying orders and spending their days out in the field, uncovering clues across national borders into Sweden and Norway.
The use of violence in the Department Q series may be uncomfortable for some viewers, since the victims are often young women or children. The violence is rarely depicted on screen you know it is there.
Fans of Danish noir will draw comparisons with “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Bron”, “Headhunter”, and “The Killing” and will find the intricacy of the cases emblematic of this distinctly Danish pitch-black brooding crime genre. The sharp critique of how vengeance manifests itself and how deep its roots are permeates all of these expertly plotted narratives. Department Q left me on the edge of my seat–had to binge view two of them!