TV review: Fortitude, Sky Atlantic (3 stars)

TV review: Fortude, Sky Atlantic

Murder mystery abound in new Nordic-noir influenced drama from Sky starring Michael Gambon and Christopher Eccleston

Fortitude is the latest original production from Sky and it's perhaps their most ambitious yet: a murder mystery set on the fictional Arctic island of Fortitude.

What at first glance looks like another Nordic-influenced thriller is aiming for something grander, creating an isolated community of oddballs cut off from the world at large. The multinational cast is particularly impressive top lined by Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Eccleston and The Killing's Sofie Gråbøl.

With a population of just 713 there has never been a violent crime within Fortitude. Governor Odegard (Gråbøl) has big plans for a new Glacier Hotel to bring in much needed tourism. However a violent high profile homicide could derail her proposals as DCI Morton (Tucci) flies in from London to investigate.

There are almost too many characters to cram into the first episodes, many of which seem unlikely inhabitants of this remote town. It's over 45 minutes before we get our first proper murder and the central story finally kicks into gear. Much of the run time spent fleshing out this unusual township, with a mammoth carcass, medical experiments and cannibalistic polar bears adding to the general air of intrigue.

Filmed in Iceland and the UK, Fortitude makes the most of its setting; the ice flows and tundra look equally stunning and foreboding, adding to the sense of claustrophobia as secrets pile on top of secrets. However, at the moment some story elements are more confusing than interesting; if and how these seemingly random acts and events connect is the real mystery. There are way too many positives to simply dismiss Fortitude. It's beautifully shot with a great cast – Gråbøl and Richard Dormer are particularly strong – but the threads need to pull together for a more coherent and satisfying whole as it progresses.

Fortitude starts on Sky Atlantic, Thu 29 Jan at 9pm.

Fortitude | TV Trailer