In 1999, a movie named Zero Tolerance appeared. It included an original cop named Johan Falk, original meaning that the character had not appeared in any novels or literature in general beforehand. The movie was a decent success, so it spawned a sequel two years after. The final movie, that would make it a trilogy, appeared two years after the second movie, was once again a decent success and had a very high budget.
Six years later, and Falk returned in a new movie series, this time around with new characters, but with the same actor still playing Falk. New additions include Joel Kinnaman's character Frank Wagner, an extremely charismatic infiltrator-spy who hangs out with gangsters for a living with a family to protect.
The story follows a police group known as the G.S.I., a group with Gothenburg's best investigators made to investigate the most powerful criminals in Sweden, which the titular Johan Falk is part of.
Unlike other crime-thrillers like Wallander and Beck, the Johan Falk movies are less of a TV Show and more of a straight forward movie series, with recurring characters and almost no one-shot villains. Instead, it focuses on Johan Falk... obviously, but also the criminals like Seth Rydell and the international mafia throughout the series. Some might even say the criminals are the real protagonists of the story.
To date, there have been 20 movies made.
Johan Falk provides examples of:
- Affably Evil:
- Seth Rydell is this consistently throughout the series.
- Martin Borhulth helps Seth with blackmailing, torturing and outright murdering his rivals. Other than that, he is still a Nice Guy towards his friends.
- The Russian mobster Mikahel Stukalov who appears in season one is a cheerful guy who happens to be a powerful gangster, and throughout the entire episode, he's jovial to Frank Wagner.
- Alone with the Psycho: In Organizatsija Karayan hitwoman Kaie Saar kidnaps Falk's stepdaughter Nina and before Saar tries drowning her Saar ties her up in a chair. During this scene, Saar is the only person nearby.
- Anti-Hero: Frank Wagner has murdered, robbed, tortured among many other crimes, but he is ultimately just doing his job as a police informant.
- Seth Rydell in season 3.
- Alas, Poor Villain:
- Martin Borhuldt is killed by Frank Wagner when he noticed how the former sabotaged their operation. But he was one of the nicest criminals and really saw Frank as a friend, and Frank feels deep guilt for his death.
- Felix Rydell dies slowly and painfully while his brother Seth desperately tries to save him.
- Ricky Morén was an inexperienced, desperate career criminal who owed money to an Evil Debt Collector and went through horrific torture and abuse by said villain. But when he finally gathers all the money and intends to pay him off, he is killed right after he collected them.
- Jack after being killed by his former partner-in-crime Seth.
- The Atoner: Leo Gaut, after the events of the film where he's the main villain, calms down and when he's out of prison he wants to go clean. He initially does, but he's dragged back again by a group of criminals who want a part of his restaurant.
- Ax-Crazy: Alot of villains are clearly disturbed.
- Milo Mikhailov, the Swedish-Russian hitman who appears in the last episodes of season 3, is a domestic abuser and it is mentioned by police investigator Jan Ossian that he constantly gets into physical fights in the prison he's in.
- Heikki Nieminen, the Finnish gangster who cuts peoples fingers off if they cant pay him whatever he thinks they owe him.
- Also, more subtly, Seth. He seems rather calm and more collected than most characters of this trope tend to be - but in the very fist film that he appears in, he has his gang beating one of their own members to death for doing business aside on his own; heavily assaulting his henchman Martin for merely thinking he might have talked to the police; and blackmails a rival-gangster by setting him on fire and then mocks him for it.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Continually subverted in season 3. It seems like Vijay Khan is going to successfully murder Seth Rydell, but then it's revealed Seth hired someone to kill Vijay. The Russian criminal network initially seems like it's too powerful to be defeated, but it eventually cracks down either way, with a mass arrest happening. That said, the organization itself will probably survive, but a lot of members are most likely going to be convicted.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Seth Rydell in season 3. Even after turning into one of the protagonists, Seth is not afraid of murder and torture to get his way.
- Niklas is surprisingly competent and skilled at fighting.
- Big Bad:
- Zero Tolerance: Leo Gaut. A robber and crime lord willing to silence any potential witnesses.
- Executive Protection: Nikolaus Lehman. The owner of a corrupt security firm which is hired by a businessman to protect him from a group of gangsters, which Lehman interprets as murdering them. When the businessman refuses to pay Lehman for not following orders, Lehman demands his money back and will do anything to get it.
- The Third Wave: Phoenix Kane. A very wealthy businessman involved in multiple shady, criminal businesses.
- The Series: Seth Rydell, being a combo of the Overarching Villain, The Heavy as well as being most prominent villain in season 1 and 2. A murderous gangster who will do anything to find the police informant.
- Valdo in season 3. A corrupt Russian businessman who is secretely a crime kingpin, considered by the G.S.I. to be the leader of Europe's biggest criminal organization.
- Big Bad Wannabe: There are a lot of cocky gangsters who overestimate their own power in the series.
- The robber and ex-military man Tomas Elooma in season 2 is a general asshole who believes himself to be a badass. To put it shortly; in his very first scene, he pushes an old man incapable of defending himself down a balcony for fun, which leads to the man's death. This cruelty could be explained by Elooma being traumatized during his days as a solfier, but it hardly justifies it.
- Ali Mahmoud Hansson in season 2 is a mere errand boy for people way higher up in the criminal league he's part of, and yet he sees himself as Gothenburg's kingpin. However, by the time he returns in season 3, he really is that powerful and is nearly on the same level as drug lord Vijay Khan.
- Edgars in season 3, the corrupt businessman who is also a member of the Russian criminal organization. He's smug throughout the entire episode and is at the end killed by his own hitman because of his organization losing an ongoing war.
- Break the Haughty: Johan Falk does this with his blackmailer from the Russian criminal network when he hides in her car and puts her at gunpoint while driving, causing her to panic.
- Butt-Monkey: Frank's wife is a darker example, constantly being psychologically or physically hurt due to Frank's profession.
- The Bus Came Back: Season 3 is full of this:
- The Pakistani Khan Clan returns and are behind the assassination attempt of Seth Rydell, using Jack as a hitman.
- Nicolaus Lehman who appears in the original 1999-2003 film trilogy is mentioned in the final episode of season 3 and was apparently among the first people to do business with the Russian criminal organization.
- Oleg and his human trafficking organization in season 1 become a vital plot point as it's revealed that G.S.I. investigator Lasse Karlsson became The Mole to the Russian criminal organization because they were competing with Oleg's human trafficking organization which murdered Karlsson's girlfriend, so he joined them in order to destroy Oleg's organization as revenge for what they did to his girlfriend.
- Attorney Fredrixon returns as Milo Mikhailov's defense attorney. He's eventually dragged into doing business with Mikhailov's organization, in which he escapes and goes to the police.
- Police Commissioner Franzén who appeared in the 1999-2003 trilogy, as well as the first season, becomes police commissioner for G.S.I. after Patrick is killed by Lasse.
- Eric Davoda, the first criminal the G.S.I. are shown catching, returns in the final episode when Fredrixon states that he knows things about the Russian criminal organization and tells the police that Davoda was involved in their activities.
- Cool Old Lady: Lisbeth Franzén.
- Cop Killer: Frank Wagner seems like this in the first episode of the series, but turns to have been faking it as part of his job.
- Milo Mikhailov murders two police officers while freeing The Russian Woman.
- Dumb Muscle: Conny, Seth Rydell's right-hand man.
- Grey-and-Black Morality: The heroes usually commits questionable acts when they think they can get even closer to the criminals.
- Hate Sink: Quite a few.
- Anton Montay is a disturbingly ruthless mobster who attacks Leo Gauts family and even beats his autistic son in an attempt to blackmail him.
- Heikki Nieminen is a cold as ice sadist who tortures people, including young inexoerienced criminals, who cant pay their debts to him. And he ends up killing Seths brother Felix when he tries to take their money.
- Ramzan appears to be a pragmatic and non-violent arms dealer, but as of Blood Diamonds he is anything but. He kidnaps four people including Niklas from GSI and tries to find out which one of them is the snitch. So he starts threatening to kill them and ends up torturing Niklas, and then randomly kills one of the hostages just because.
- The Heavy: Seth Rydell in season one and two.
- Overarching Villain: Seth Rydell who appears in most of the movies.