"Mannen på taket" or "(The) Man on the Roof" is a Swedish Swedish-language movie from 1976 directed by the perhaps second most known Swedish filmmaker of all time Bo Widerberg. He also adapted the novel this film is based on. First of all, I need to praise myself with the title of this review, it sounds almost better than The French Connection. Of course I would like to say with that that this film we have here is clearly inspired by the Best Picture winning American movie I just mentioned. It is about crime, action, police work etc. And most of it is pretty good. There is a bit of a clean cut in this 110-minute film arpound the middle. The first half is police investigation work and finding out who killed the policeman at the hospital, a murder that is depicted in the very first couple minutes of the film. The second half is getting him as he is doing the exact opposite of hising away. Instead he moved up to a rooftop from which he is firing at men in police uniforms critically wounding several. But he is not interested in killing anbody else, which confirms his own background that it is all about revenge. He lost his wife to diabetes about a decade ago when she was imprisoned and did not have her medication while the cops around her were just thinking she was another alcoholic and/or drug addict. This revenge plan took a long tim to be put into reality, but eventually it did, perhaps also becaese Nyman, the cop who died early on was about to die from illness anyway, so you can say that in a way the perpretator in this movie did not let him get away like that. But even if you see his action somewhat justified there, the initial killing, there is no justification for killing innocent policemen afterward.
However, they really make it easy for him. The best example is when that helicopter arrives with one man down there on the rope to be let down on the roof and he is getting shot immediately by Eriksson. But yeah what was that. Like letting a turkey down into a fox' home really. There are more actions here that make the Swedish police look like complete fools. This also includes my favorite from the gang, Beck (played by Lindstedt),who goes up there on his own, but it feels almost as if they are making fun of these one-man army American movies that also already existed back then. Of course he gets shot and it is unclear, rather unlikely, he survives in the end. I will not go into detail any further about how the police fails here, you will know what I mean when watching this movie. There were also some moments I found unrealistic like for example that the cop who eventually gets the killer is one that got a bleeding wound early on and despite that does everything he does. There is an Indian reference related to that as a bit of a comedy moment. And there are more comedy moments than you would expect in this film. I am not really sure if they were intended that way, but it is about situational comedy most of the time more about how people act and what they do in a slapstick manner even than about what they say. But also this sometimes. The best moment about the latter was that old lady asking if the man in charge wants biscuits and if the coffee is fine. The slapstick involes a pair of shoes early on, the other police officer getting Beck slightly into safety and a few more moments. These you will recognize as well. But yeah, I know I repeat myself, but overall the police actions in their clumsy attempts and occasional helplessness to catch the offender almost had a touch of Police Academy.
Finally a few words on the ending. The film closes very abruptly the moment they get him. This works somewhat nicely with the beginning. The film starts the crimes begin and ends when they are over. Well, maybe they could have done without Nyman being led to the toilet and right with the moment he gets attacked to make it more obvious, but then we would have done without the window reference and him saying himself to leave the window open, which was funny in a sadistic way. A bit sad to see so many of these actors deceased by now, but yeah, it's been 45 years soon, so not a surprise. Ingvar Hirdwall, who plays the killed, is still alive way into his 80s now. What else can I say about this film. I think I heard that Dominik Graf was inspired by this one, but yeah, he is perhaps Germany's most overrated filmmaker and been so for a long time and in my opinion, he never got close to Widerberg's efforts here just one bit. I was lucky enough to see this film on a big screen as they are showing Widerberg's entire body of work here once again in tehaters these coming weeks and with the second more action-heavy half this was a good decision to check out this movie. The first half would have been as good probably on the small screen. To sum it all up, another thing I liked was that there is not one cop here or even two we follow throughout the entire film and who basically do it all, but it is a combined effort by the whole force that eventually leads to success, which probably has to do more with how things go in reality (even if this is not the most realistic film at times as I elaborated on earlier) and that was a good decision, especially as the characters are still depicted in a way where they stay memorable with their physique, quirks... you name it. A good film with some great moments. Go check it out, even if I have heard it is not necessarily (in terms of genre and style) the defining movie when it comes to Widerberg's body of work. But it doesn't have to be. It's still a good watch without a doubt. Some even say it is the best Swedish action/crime thriller ever made. I am not sure if I would go that far though, but it certainly has its moments. Don't miss out.
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Police lieutenant Nyman is murdered in his hospital bed and Martin Beck and his colleagues have another murder to solve. They discover that Nyman was a very tough policeman who received several complaints about his methods. His partner Hult defends him against these accusations, while Nyman's widow explains that Hult was the only one outside of the family who knew where Nyman was hospitalized. It becomes obvious to Beck, that a lot of people wanted Nyman dead, but he is not the only one targeted. Soon a sniper kills policemen from a roof in central Stockholm.
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