Comment • reviews • Nordic Noir • whimsy
Contains mild spoilers
‘I don’t think you’re dumb,’ said crackerjack investigator Mads Justesen. ‘I think you’re greedy.’ And that in a nutshell is what Follow the Money is all about: an exploration about how far people are prepared to go in pursuit of their desires, and their effectiveness in getting there. Although the series is ostensibly about financial sabotage, the main characters’ driving passions are in the main not financial and the result is ten hours of gripping and multi-layered drama.
I say ‘not in the main financial’ because the main plot which culminates in a financial crisis is fuelled by secondary characters whom the drama does not really explore. Yes there is a Mr Big, and he has friends among the global financial elite. But Follow the Money is not really concerned with the actions of the truly powerful but with the implications for the people whom the elite cast aside as so little collateral.
That’s important because it means that the story-telling puts the consequences of the actions of the elites above the actions themselves and this in its turn gives the series an accessibility that ten hours on exchange arbitrage and corporate sabotage might perhaps not have had.
There’s quite a slow start – but unlike in series 1 a dramatically-satisfying slow start – in which the main characters are reintroduced (we have met most of them in series 1). I’ll be honest: a number are rather dislikable. I’m yelling at Mads and also at the two new corporate would-be hot-shots who should have never have been allowed anywhere near a board-room. Conversely, Nicky’s descent is portrayed exceptionally sympathetically even if the use of partner Lina (together with dependable Alf) as the probable moral compass of the show is a little sentimental. And Bimse, who is an idiot in the first series, becomes someone we care about (though that’s partly because Nicky’s storyline is darker and there’s less room for slapstick). By the time we’re a few episodes in the pace picks up and the result is a series that’s very easy to binge-watch (and I suspect quite hard to watch on a week-to-week basis). There is some shooting, itself brilliantly shot.
Whether their prime motivations are revenge, glory, the ability to live with a degenerative disease, saving their career after a dodgy deal, or being able to find a way to reconcile domesticity with minor gangster stuff that gets out of hand, most of the characters have entered this axis kind of accidentally. But it’s worth saying that although it’s the elite that bring Denmark to the brink, and in the end only the elite that can save it, the actions of the main characters do in fact help (sometimes) and hinder (sometimes) their manoeuvres.
A rollicking story, interested in its characters (annoying though some of them are) and with some stand-out performances (a special hat tip to Esben Smed Jensen who plays the troubled Nicky). Watch it.
Follow the Money is currently available on BBC iPlayer (but you need to act fast) and will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray from 10 April. Pre-order here.