In the film, isn't it a bit dangerous for a pregnant mother to travel around doing police work? Especially when she knows she's dealing with murderers? Don't they have maternity leave for that sort of thing?
Small town police departments usually don't have a lot of personnel, which is why Marge is doing field work even though she's also the chief. This isn't much of a problem since those communities usually don't have any serious crime problems. The fact that it's the chief that is taking the role of primary investigator shows just how small Brainard PD is.
Couldn't/shouldn't Marge at least have waited for the backup to come before going in to arrest Gaear? Was it really necessary, especially in her condition, to go right in and take him alone? A lot could have gone very wrong for her and backup was on the way.
In the film, how come Gaear didn't shoot Marge when she confronted him while he was shredding Carl in the wood chipper and fled into nowhere? It's not like he had any problem killing people during the film, as the cop, the couple, Jean and Carl found out the hard way.
Grimsrud didn't have a gun on him at the woodchipper and he might have panicked upon seeing Marge, thinking that she wasn't alone. Criminals tend to be a rather impulsive lot, often reacting like children to sudden, unexpected triggers, especially if they think punishment has come for them.
Marge also had her gun drawn and aimed right at him. If he'd tried going for a gun or making a move towards her, she could and probably would have easily plugged him. And if she's got back-up, if he wastes time attacking her, then all she needs to do is cry out once, they're on top of him. But since she's visibly pregnant and unlikely to be able to speedily pursue him, his best chance was making a break for it.
Also, him getting caught at all came down to what was a pretty great shot, on Marge's part. If anyone else had been there in her place, he very likely could've gotten away. (Though they probably still could've tracked him from there.)
Why use a woodchipper to commit a brutal murder? Wouldn't the large amount of blood-stained snow give it away?
To get rid of the bodies. His partner was killed with an axe and the kidnap victim was shot. He was probably trying to destroy evidence and make it more difficult to prove how they died and that he was the murderer. On the other hand, one could call this film "Did Not Think This Through At All".
Marge arrested Gaear Grimsrud in Moose Lake. That's a different city from Brainerd. Would she have had jurisdiction to take him there?
Would it have mattered? She took down a homicide suspect, not a traffic offender.
Is Wade supposed to be seen as a bad guy? (Not a villain, just a not-good person.) Most mentions of him around here tend to paint him in a negative light, but I never realized he was supposed to be seen that way. He's harsh and critical of his son-in-law, sure, but this is the guy who thought having his own wife kidnapped was a fine idea, even if Wade didn't know about Jerry's involvement. He offers Jerry a finder's fee for a deal he thinks Jerry brought to him and only goes through with it on his own once he's sure Jerry isn't interested, and while his actions surrounding the ransom exchange were too stubborn for his own good, it was his daughter's life that was at stake. While not the smartest moves to have made, I didn't think they made him the kind of bad person others paint him as.
I agree; Wade seems to be presented as one of the more nuanced characters in the film rather than a classic bad guy; a different intent on part of the creators would run the risk of making him a Designated Villain. He has his flaws, but at the same time, he's obviously known Jerry for at least what, 13 years, and likely figured out long ago that his daughter married something of a loser. His behavior should probably be viewed in part in this light.