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DVD Review: ‘Falcón’

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When it comes to mystery series and crime procedurals, British television has America beat, hands down. Instead of dwelling on inter-office politics or what a bullet wound looks like under a microscope, British crime dramas continue to delve deeply into the psyche of their investigators as well as the criminals they are hunting. Acorn Media recently released a two-episode set, Falcón, which features Marton Csokas as the conflicted Chief Inspector Javier Falcón, who must try to catch brutal killers on the colorful streets of Seville, Spain, while trying to unravel their connections to his life and his past.

Falcón wanders the streets of Seville by night

Falcón wanders the streets of Seville by night

Based on the Javier Falcón series by author Robert Wilson, Falcón has adapted the first two novels, The Blind Man of Seville (2003) and The Silent and the Damned (2004) into two feature-length films on two discs, with a total running time of 179 minutes. The widescreen format, with an aspect ratio of 1.77:1, looks great on a large-scale high definition television screen. The Dolby sound is also high quality, with clear dialogue and background noises, especially evident in a nail-biting scene set in a bullfight arena. SDH subtitles are available. Extras includes picture galleries on both discs and three short features on Disc 1:

The Blind Man of Seville: Behind the Scenes, which runs 17 minutes.

Javier Falcón: Behind the Man, which runs 6 minutes.

Falcón’s Seville with Robert Wilson, which runs 9 minutes.

The discs are not rated, but viewers should be aware that Falcón is not for the faint-of-heart. The murders depicted in both stories are particularly gruesome, and upsetting as well, if one develops an affinity for the lead character. And with Martin Csokas’s compelling portrayal of the brilliant, handsome, drug-addicted, but somehow honorable detective, it is impossible not to be drawn into his conflicts and his story. Seville provides not just a glorious backdrop, but an actual character in the films, as its winding streets, noisy bars, and bright lights underscore Falcón’s mood. Purists may be put off by the very British accents sported by all of the cast, but the actors attempting Spanish accents may have been even more problematic.

We meet Falcón in the first film, The Blind Man of Seville, as he is investigating a brutal murder of a wealthy restaurateur. Falcón seems to have the usual veteran cop baggage — a substance abuse problem, a disgruntled ex-wife (Emilia Fox). He seems a bit haunted by the death of his father, a world-renowned painter, a year ago, and lives in his father’s house, reluctant to carry out his last wishes, which includes destroying all of his paintings. He soon discovers that his life is inextricably linked to his investigation, as his father’s photo turns up among the victim’s possessions. Further complicating matters is his strong attraction to the victim’s widow (Hayley Atwell), who may also be a suspect. Bernard Hill guest stars as a family friend who may provide some much-needed answers to Falcón’s questions about his father.

The second film, The Silent and the Damned, picks up a few months after The Blind Man of Seville left off, with Falcón still reeling from his discoveries, but also trying to get back to doing what he does best— solving crimes. But the powers-that-be are less than enthusiastic about his return, and he is soon transferred from the investigation of the death of a prominent businessman to the murder of a homeless man. As he looks into events that took place long ago in Pinochet’s Chile, Falcón realizes that the two deaths are linked, and that his life is in danger. Rosie Perez, Robert Lindsay, and Kenneth Cranham guest star.

Falcón is by his nature a loner, but he is aided in his investigations by his right-hand man, Inspector Luis Ramírez (Charlie Creed-Miles), and police officer Christina Ferrera (Natalia Tena). Although made for television, the two Falcón episodes are very cinematic — in their filmic style, brutal imagery, sexual themes, and strong language. Two very adult shows, but well worth watching.

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