THE UNLIKELY MURDERER on Netflix is a new Swedish mini-series with 5 episodes. It’s essentially a true-crime thriller about the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, in 1986. Read our full The Unlikely Murderer review here!
THE UNLIKELY MURDERER is a new Netflix mini-series from Sweden. The subject of this true-crime series is the murder of Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, in 1986. Or rather, it’s about the terrible way the investigation into the murder was handled.
With just 5 episodes, it’s a quick watch. You’ll think some of this can’t be true. However, if you’ve watched true story documentaries about the Olof Palme assassination (or any other crimes), you’ll know that reality always beats fiction. You simply could not make this up and have anyone believe it was realistic!
Continue reading our The Unlikely Murderer series review below. We’ve watched all five episodes in the mini-series.
The two weak spots of this production
I cannot help but mention that there is an issue with the make-up effects used to make actor Robert Gustafsson look like the real-life Stig Engström. The Olof Palme make-up works better, but he’s only in a few scenes, so you don’t get as much time to evaluate (and judge) this.
Robert Gustafsson, on the other hand, has to portray Stig Engström (known for a long time simply as “Skandia Man”) for a period of many years. Admittedly, the aging is quite difficult to spot, since the make-up feels a bit off from the beginning. Sure, there are changes, but not nearly enough.
It’s a shame since Robert Gustafsson (star of the Oscar-nominated The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) does a really good job. Sure, you get used to the make-up, but it’s not exactly because it’s good.
This leads me to the other weak spot of The Unlikely Murderer: The chronology of telling this story is a bit muddled. I mean, it makes sense that we’re in the present and back when the murder happened in 1986. However, then we jump back before 1986 and to many years between 1986 and now.
Sometimes, you’ll get the year printed on the screen to help you out. Other times, you’re on your own. The fact that the Stig Engström make-up isn’t very age-defining makes it even more difficult to figure out when and where in the timeline, we are.
The murder of Olof Palme as a starting point
This new Swedish Netflix production is based on the true story of the Olof Palme murder, which took place in 1986. The Prime Minister of Sweden had been to the movie theater with his wife and other family members. On his way home, he was gunned down in the middle of the street a little before midnight.
However, the actual murder isn’t the core subject. It’s merely the starting point. The actual subject is the very flawed investigation into finding the murderer. As is often the case (which you’ll know if you watch true crime productions), the police were quick to decide on a theory.
Having a theory that involved an international conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister, they looked for evidence to support this. Of course, what they should have done, was look at the evidence first. Based on their findings, they could then decide on a theory.
Of course, it didn’t help that many different elements worked against the investigation as a whole. For one, widow Lisbet Palme felt very badly treated and quickly wanted no part of the investigation. Also, the Swedish press was quick to help spread various rumors. In that sense, it feels like a very current story!
Watch The Unlikely Murderer on Netflix!
Wilhelm Behrman and Niklas Rockström are the head writers on this Swedish mini-series. It’s based on a book by Thomas Pettersson. He looked into the case just a few years ago and found many mistakes had been made. The two head writers also wrote the Netflix series Caliphate which was created by Wilhelm Behrman.
The five episodes in this Netflix crime-thriller series are directed by Simon Kaijser (Spinning Man) and Charlotte Brändström (The Outsider, Jupiter’s Legacy). These two know what they’re doing and make sure that the series works as a whole – even with the sometimes twisted chronology!
In many ways, The Unlikely Murderer could just as easily have been titled Skandia Man since it’s all about him. Stig Engström was only known as “Skandia Man” for the longest time. This was because the media wasn’t allowed to name potential suspects.
Of course, the main issue was the fact that the police kept viewing Stig Engström as a witness rather than the main suspect. Something that seems crazy when you look at the facts today. However, the true strength of this series is definitely the focus on both Stig Engström and the case as a whole. It’s very intriguing to watch it unfold!
The Unlikely Murderer premieres globally on Netflix on November 5, 2021.
Directors: Charlotte Brändström (conceptual director) and Simon Kaijser
Scriptwriters: Wilhelm Behrman and Niklas Rockström (Based on the book The Unlikely Murderer by Thomas Pettersson)
Stars: Robert Gustafsson, Eva Melander, Mikael Persbrandt, Peter Andersson, Joel Spira, Emil Almén, Shanti Roney, Torkel Petterson, Henrik Norlén, Lia Boysen, Magnus Krepper, Björn Bengtsson, Peter Viitanen as Olof Palme, Cilla Thorell
The Unlikely Murderer is a fictional interpretation of how Stig Engström, the graphic designer who was named as the probable murderer of Sweden’s prime minister Olof Palme, managed to elude justice right up to his death through a combination of audacity, luck and a perplexed police force. What do we know about Stig Engström? How could the police let him get away, despite being on his track? The murder was not planned well, Engström did everything wrong from the beginning and almost no one believed his lies about what he actually did during that fateful night 1986 in Stockholm, Sweden.
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