Fassbender plays drunken dirtbag detective Harry Hole (yes, real name, delivered with a straight face always), who only stays on the straight and narrow when he’s got a case. “Sorry for Oslo’s low murder rate,” his boss intones. Harry’s in luck when women start to go missing and he lands a new partner in Katrine (Rebecca Ferguson), who’s an aggressive investigator with a penchant for pilfering cold case files, especially ones concerning a drunken dirtbag detective (Val Kilmer), back in her hometown of Bergen.
The story flips back and forth for some reason between Bergen a decade earlier and present-day Oslo, drawing connections between the missing women and a high-powered businessman (Simmons) who is backing a bid for Oslo to host the “Winter Sports Cup.” He’s also pals with a shady abortionist who procures women for him. Too bad this whole plot, which is the majority of the movie, is much ado about nothing.
Among all of this is some truly gruesome imagery, and unimaginable violence, deployed cavalierly, and committed primarily against female victims. Our antihero Hole is himself a bit of a boor, roughing up his female partner to make a point, because he’s got to save the day, his way. What a guy. With a perplexing tale and some very odd creative choices, it’s so easy to laugh at “The Snowman,” but this kind of tale shouldn’t inspire laughter.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Directed by Tomas Alfredson.
Rated R for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 59 minutes.
Bottom line: Murder mystery that makes very little sense