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, and many other things, but he is a police infiltrator just doing what he has to do.
- 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: 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.
- 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 2 and 3, seems a lot nicer than in season 1, and he is, but he isn't afraid of murdering to get his own way.
- Niklas is surprisingly competent and skilled at fighting.
- Big Bad:
- Season 1: Seth Rydell, the person who is preventing Frank Wagner from living a normal life as he's shown to be cruel to all who he dislikes, and if he found out that Wagner was a police infiltrator he'd murder him. After the first three episodes, Rydell is convicted and is replaced by one-shot villains. In Leo Gaut the main antagonist is Anton Montay, a gangster who will do anything to get a part of the titular Leo's restaurant. In Operation Näktergal, it's Oleg, a human trafficker. And in Outlaws, it's Maxim Morosov, an ex-military Russian hitman who is said to have countless victims.
- Season 2: Seth Rydell is out of prison again, and is the main antagonist. However, he's more careful now, so he's not quite as vicious anymore. In Rules of the Game, Vijay Khan, a Pakistani drug lord, is dealing with Rydell and is more of an antagonist than Rydell, where he's more of a background character. The same goes for Organizatsija Karayan and Codename: Lisa. In Organizatsija Karayan, the ex of Falk's wife Helén is a slimy construction business owner who does business with the Russian mob, and eventually the mob snaps after he doesn't pay and decides to go after his family. In Codename: Lisa, Rydell is doing business with Russian mobster Andrei Dudajev, who finds out that Frank Wagner is a police infiltrator by hacking into documents and wants Seth to kill him for it.
- Season 3: At first, Jack seems like the obvious main antagonist as he wants to usurp Seth, but it's revealed to be more complicated than that, Ali Mahmoud Hansson and Vijay Khan of the Khan Clan are using Jack as a mere pawn to murder Seth and then rob a diamond shop. The Russian Woman also seems to at first be a key member of the criminal organization she's working for, but she's revealed to have a much smaller role, all she is supposed to do is blackmail Falk for someone else higher up. Seth's girlfriend Madeleine Wiik has an ex-boyfriend named Milo Mikhailov who also works for the criminal organization, and he turns out to be Sweden's leading member of the organization, so he's quite powerful. The man who leads the organization is named Valdo, a corrupt businessman who covers the organization partially with a company where women whose significant other is criminal pays a monthly fee to, once their husband is dead, get insurance. It's also revealed that there are at least two police leaks in the organization; Lasse Karlsson and Jan Ossian, the former being a G.S.I. investigator on vacation and the latter an internal affairs investigator.
- Big Bad Wannabe: There are a lot of cocky gangsters who overestimate their power in the series.
- Mikahel Stukalov from National Target constantly messes with Frank Wagner and knows that he can do whatever he wants with him, but is still outsmarted by Wagner in the end.
- The robber and ex-military man Tomas Elooma in season 2 seem to think he's a complete 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. However, this cruelty could be explained by Elooma being traumatized during his war experiences, but it doesn't justify 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 his organization is losing status.
- Black Comedy: Obviously the entire movies aren't this, but there is some darker humor in the movies.
- 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.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Conny, Seth Rydell's right-hand man.
- Butt-Monkey: To a certain extent, Frank Wagner is this in Codename: Lisa. His wife, however, is this for the entire series. In National Target, she is kicked in a sensitive area while pregnant, so hard that the process stops and the new child is never born. Most of the bad things that happen to Frank's wife can be blamed at him.
- 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 to crush 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 seen convicting, returns in the final episode when Fredrixon states that he knows things about the Russian criminal organization.
- Cop Killer: Frank Wagner seems like this in the first episode of the series, but he's just pretending to kill as he's a police infiltrator.