Sunday, 21 August 2016

Stralsund - Mörderische Verfolgung (4 Stars)

This is a German film that was made for television in 2009. The title can mean either "Deadly Pursuit" or "Deadly Persecution", and both translations are appropriate. It was originally intended as a one-off film, but it was remarkably succesful and was watched by almost six million viewers, so from 2011 to 2015 seven sequels were made. They all feature the police force in Stralsund and particularly police inspector Nina Petersen, played by Katharina Wackernagel. I'm not sure whether "inspector" is an accurate translation of her rank, because the German police have a different structure to their English and American equivalents. In German her rank is "Kommissar". She's a uniformed police officer who has a lot of responsibility in solving cases, so she seems to be more like a detective.

The plot: Michael Broder's company burnt down. When he tried to claim insurance he was wrongly accused of starting the fire himself, so he killed the person who accused him of arson. The law isn't always fair, and insurance companies are rarely fair, but murder isn't a good solution. He was arrested and sent to prison.

Six month later the Stralsund chief of police, Susanne Winkler, receives a phone call from her ex-lover Mona to meet her at an insurance company. It's the same company which dealt with Michael Broder's claim. When she arrives she finds the staff tied and gagged, and she too is overpowered by a masked man. He demands two million Euros and the release of Michael Broder.

This is an exciting thriller with twists and turns as the plot develops. It's more original than any other hostage dramas I've seen. Right up to the end it isn't obvious what will happen next. The situation can only be solved by Nina Petersen's skillful psychological ploy, managing to turn the hostage taker and his accomplices against one another.

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