The grim Nordic Noir setting moved to the springtime cornfields of western Denmark – welcome to the third Department Q film, A Conspiracy of Faith. In many ways, the third instalment is considerably different from its predecessors The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One, but our heroes and the gritty crime drama we love are still at its core.
In the third film, we start with a struggling Department Q. Carl (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is deeper in his depression, and his assistant and best friend Assad (Fares Fares) is struggling to get him back on track. When a message in a bottle washes up on the shore Assad knows this will pull Carl out of his depressive state, and the two get to work. The message contains a cry for help from a boy held in captivity. All signs indicate that he is part of a religious cult. As they look further into the case they discover that two children have recently vanished from the bible belt of Denmark, and the man they suspect is a religious fanatic who kills children as part of his beliefs. The two are then in a race to save these two children before he kills them. Religion is clearly a heavy theme in the topic, and the atheist Carl and religious Assad debate their beliefs throughout the film. The interactions between the depressive and melancholic Carl and the jovial Assad are excellent, and as usual Lie Kaas and Fares are in top form.
A Conspiracy of Faith is quite different from the other films of the series. Firstly, while the books author Jussi Alder-Olsen generally co-wrote with Nikolaj Arcel, this time Arcel was alone in adapting the novel for the screen. The was now free to cut storylines, change characters and this actually does justice for the film – it’s like we are able to focus on small groups of unpredictable characters. As our investigators track down the murderer, the religious family steers us off and our offender’s manipulative abilities keep us on the edge of our seats. All of these important elements together create a puzzle, and the film is action packed while maintaining the distinctive Nordic Noir style. The biggest change of all was the addition of several Norwegians to the scene. The Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland (In Order of Disappearance) took over from Mikkel Nørgaard and turned the antagonist into a Norwegian, played by Pål Sverre Hagen. Jakob Oftebro also makes an appearance in the film, though it is short.
Overall, A Conspiracy of Faith is an excellent film, and the fact that it broke box office records in Denmark is hardly a surprise.