The leader of an opposition party is hospitalised after a horrific car crash days before polling day. Rivals to be his successor maneuver for support. A journalist looking to make his name on the political beat has a sniff of a story.
Many political thrillers have raw ingredients similar to that. What raises King’s Game above them is the skill and the freshness with which they are combined.
The freshness of course is aided to British eyes by this being another great Danish thriller (featuring, amongst others, Lars Mikkelsen, he of The Killing, Borgen and the lesser known Flame and Citron) rather than yet another American one.
It has that distinctive Scandinavian touch of thoughtful, low key and gradually building tension. In Hollywood’s hands we would have improbably handsome actors rushing about at high speed to a thumping music sound track. Here we have rather more typical looking characters, letting you play Danish actor bingo as you spot familiar faces from the successful TV shows, a more credible pace and more plausible plot, all accompanied by music that subtly adds to the tension rather than battering your eardrums into submission.
Watch and listen, by the way, all the way to the end. The final clips of journalists talking as a car pulls away adds a believable and bitter twist which gives the film a powerful postscript.
If you like this, you might also be interested in Sidney Lumet’s Power.
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You can buy King’s Game here.