Clark (Netflix) review: Swedish thrill ride with Bill Skarsgård at the helm

Clark follows the life and crimes of Clark Olofsson, the celebrity gangster who shook all of Sweden with his crimes and grabbed eyeballs everywhere through his charming persona, inspiring the phrase “Stockholm Syndrome”.

Story

Clark (Bill Skarsgård) was always a charmer. He had a way with the ladies and knew how to get out of situations. Clark decided to put his talents to use very early in life.

He usually indulged in small-time crimes like stealing and breaking in. His biggest break-in could be considered the time he robbed the Prime Minister. He had his ways of getting into trouble constantly.

The jail was like a second home to Clark and he was one of those guys who knew how to get out of his home with ease.

Clark never had to toil hard to find a day’s bread and shed. Either he played his charm on beautiful ladies or did what he knows best- rob banks.

His first moment of fame came when he got involved in the murder of a police officer due to his partner’s mistake. Clark Olofsson became an overnight celebrity gangster across all of Sweden.

But that wasn’t the end of the dream for Clark Oderth Olofsson. It was just the beginning. And if you know Clark, it’s never the end of anything with him, especially when it comes to risky adventures.

Performances

Bill Skarsgård stars and shines as Clark Olafsson. There are rarely any moments he doesn’t reach out through the screen with his charm and wit. Clark’s character goes through, to put it mildly, some turbulence throughout the show and Skarsgård brings to life every emotion.

While it’s mostly a Clark show, there’s a vibrant cast of actors playing the many characters in Clark’s life. Vilhelm Blomgren plays the police officer who shares a love-hate relationship with Clark with commitment and conviction.

Hanna Björn, Isabelle Grill, Sofie Hoflack, Malin Levanon, and Agnes Lindström Bolmgren play some of the many lovers of Clark over the years. While their characters do not get consistent importance from the writers, the actors play a crucial part in bringing balance to Clark’s story.

Peter Viitanen, Adam Lundgren, and Christoffer Nordenrot play Clark’s accomplices in his various crimes. All of them bring the eccentric characters handed to them to life on the screen and it remains interesting to see their characters share a dynamic bond with Clark.

The rest of the cast also contributes with some justifiable and notable performances.

Positives

A strong performance from the leading cast is added to by the fun and tight writing that keeps the series eventful and entertaining. Barring the Norrmalmstorg robbery episode, the pacing feels like a fine wine with adequate time allotted to each developing situation.

There are barely moments when the script gets loose and the viewer’s attention is taken for granted. Even at nearly hour-long episodes, the writers have done a brilliant job painting a fictionalized real-life story with all the fun elements and limiting distractions that usually plague biographical series and films.

The sound design, production design, art direction, set design, and costume design are also notable for bringing the changing times to the screen with the correct tone and vibrance as Clark’s life is portrayed spanning through the decades.

Editors Nils Moström and Rickard Krantz deserve praiseworthy mentions as they do much of the leg work to present a story, that took place through decades, in a way that rarely any phase of the episode feels like a drag.

Negatives

Clark falters at providing a proper picture of Clark Olafsson by the end. It’s really difficult to safely assume what the real Clark is like.

Even though glimpses of his past life are shared providing some background to the narcissistic, obsessed, and manipulative Clark Olafsson, a better job was expected in bringing out the other shade of the main character.

Similar is the situation with the lovers of Clark. The characters do get significant importance and screen time when they are part of Clark’s life but for some reason, the catastrophic after-effects of Clark’s appearance in their life are not followed after they lose the importance in Clark’s schemes.

There are moments when the suspension of disbelief is stretched a fair bit more than the viewers can take it. While the exaggerated nature of events and situations suits the tone of the show, it steals away some of the realism that could benefit a biographical series such as this.

It feels a bit repetitive at moments but the fast pace makes up for it.

Verdict

The thumb never moves away from the thrill button in Clark. There’s plenty of excitement always lurking in the air on most occasions and the events are fun to follow. There are minor issues that come with such stories that try to portray larger-than-life characters but nothing significant that qualifies for a fatal flaw. It’s entertaining, thrilling, and on most occasions, worth the time.

Rating: 4/5


Also Read: Clark (2022) summary and ending explained