Before We Die
- Brian Donaldson
- 26 May 2021
Lesley Sharp once again soars in a passable remake of the 2018 Swedish crime drama
Has there been a remake of any Scandi TV noir that improved upon the original? Despite some high-profile US, UK and continental European adaptations, The Bridge and The Killing were never likely to be bested. But what of this Bristol-set Before We Die, a fresh version of the 2018 Swedish drama which aired on Channel 4's always intriguing but often patchy Walter Presents strand? Well, this one includes similar opening credits, with the main actors in equally stark monochrome close-up, though here they are drained of even more life, looking very White Walker-like as they stare out at an already petrified public.
As with pretty much most Scandi noirs, there's a young man in a hoodie up to no good. Here, it's Christian (Patrick Gibson), the son of a detective Hannah (Lesley Sharp) who helps snare him in a drug bust, leading her boy to a spell in clink and a lifetime of resentment. Before you know it (just under two years later), Christian is back out, being mentored by Hannah's new fella Sean (Bill Ward), a co-copper who lands himself in hot water with cold-blooded goons.
There's a revelatory moment that hinges on a bag of Jelly Tots, and soon all hell breaks loose. From there, we're trapped in a claustrophobic plot involving Croatian gangsters, someone who used to be in Brookside, Mark Knopfler's daughter, and yet another ropy and frankly unnecessary Caledonian brogue from a non-Scottish actor. But saving the day, as per, is the effortlessly excellent Sharp, outperforming everyone in sight, despite uttering the odd line that no sentient human should have been asked to say out loud.
Admittedly, all this makes Before We Die sound terrible, but as we close in on the finale, there are two twists, one of which is genuinely nerve-shredding (the other might put you to sleep). While it's still capable of producing the occasional decent comedy series, Channel 4's drama output remains something of a disappointment. Strong original work seems to be the way to go (such as Adult Material and The Virtues) rather than recycling small-screen non-essentials.
Channel 4, Wednesday 26 May, 9pm.