Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Ardalan Esmaili, Tova Magnusson, Joachim Fjelstrup
Directed by: Jesper W. Nielsen, Fredrik Edfeldt, Jörgen
With a military grade explosive missing and a terrorist on the loose, authorities are in a desperate race to uncover their plot. Meanwhile Victoria, an expert in drone technology is held hostage in her own home and forced to cooperate in preparing a terrorist attack. When authorities are alerted to her situation, agents Eva and Jesper must ask her to cooperate and learn what she can about her captor’s plans. As each task pushes Victoria further into danger she begins to lose hope in a rescue and as her captor, Ilyad, an old friend-turned-extremist spends more time with her and her son she begins to understand more about his tragic past. Time is running out and so is trust but can they stop the attack before it’s too late?
Greyzone explores the idea that between right and wrong, good and evil, there is a place of conflict and confusion where the wires cross and the lines blur. We are taken on a thrilling journey with Victoria that keeps us gripped to the edge of our seats and asks us a few moral questions along the way. Throughout the course of 10 episodes we follow the story from the perspectives of Eva and Jesper, two agents working to gather intelligence and Victoria, a single mother held hostage and forced to carry out a series of tasks that ultimately arm the terrorists with a working weapon.
The series packs enough twists and turns in to make full use of every instalment and the early episodes do a good job in moving the narrative forward quickly, without too much time spent setting things up. In the first scene, Eva finds herself in a shootout in the back of a lorry which leaves us with a dead border guard, a wounded runaway and an abandoned military grade missile. However, despite an action packed opening sequence the Hollywood shoot-outs and big budget chase scenes are used sparing throughout the series. Greyzone focuses less on the all-guns-blazing action thriller model and instead relies heavily on a brilliantly executed series of suspenseful twists and turns that keep us intensely engaged in the plight of each character. Although it didn’t feel as if the action sequences were missing it would’ve been nice to see the legal speed limit broken occasionally during some of the slowest pursuits I’ve ever seen. But maybe that’s a bit picky.
Perhaps the greatest weapon in this series is Birgitte Hjort Sørensen’s performance as Victoria. She goes through it all, from incredibly believable panic attacks and raging outbursts of anger to moments of fragility, hopelessness and fear. Victoria experiences just about every emotion there is during her ordeal and Greyzone needs you to feel it all. Sörensen’s outstanding ability to make you feel every emotion of her character is amazing and if you don’t find your heart racing or your jaw dropped regularly throughout the series then you’re probably not human.
Ardalan Esmaili co-stars as Victoria’s captor, Ilyad and rises to meet the monumental challenge of matching Sørensen’s performance in some of the most moving and memorable scenes. It is their chemistry that defines the success of the series and his portrayal of an angry and conflicted character with a believable and touching backstory turns what could’ve been a simple and predictable story into one that asks questions of its audience and gives us something that feels fresh, exciting and unpredictable.
There are some seemingly pointless sidesteps into additional storylines involving Victoria’s ex-husband and mother, Eva’s daughter, Jesper’s previous relations and even a half-hearted stab at exposing some high-level corruption but all of that felt largely meaningless and the series might’ve benefited from trimming some of the fat. That said, some of it served to paint a more rounded picture of each character and although it did slow the pace of things a little, I suppose it gave us a chance to steel ourselves for the next big moment.
All in all, prepare for an intelligent and intense thriller that explores espionage, extremism and Stockholm syndrome with a smorgasbord of emotions to boot.