A crime thriller and mystery series that falls into the category of the many Scandinavian crime dramas that have risen in recent years (i.e. The Killing, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Fortitude is a brooding mystery/crime drama set in a tiny island town known as Fortitude.
Sitting at the edge of the arctic circle, the tiny island town of Fortitude is home to only 700 people and a research facility. Known as the safest place in the world, there is no violent crime in Fortitude, until now. When Professor Charlie Stoddart (Christopher Eccleston) is found violently murdered in his home just after letting some people know he would alert the mainland that he would put a stop to plans to start development on a glacier hotel, it leads to an investigation and the revelation of many of the town’s secrets. DCI Morton (Stanley Tucci), from London, arrives, not only to investigate Stoddart’s murder, but also a previous, suspicious death of someone who the sheriff, Dan Anderssen (Richard Dormer), says was eaten by a polar bear, but Morton thinks something else happened.
The more the investigations continue, the more connections are uncovered between the townsfolk, such as marital infidelities, secret identities, cover-ups, and more.
The series is one of the best and also most unusual mystery series I’ve seen in a while. It begins with a simple mystery that, by the time you reach the final, twelfth episode, you realize was a misdirection all along. It hints at supernatural events, but also stays grounded in reality. The increasing spread of violence through this tight-knit community is pulled off with marvelous results by a powerful cast of actors. Tucci seems out of place at first (“I hate this f*****g place” are some of his last words in one powerfully revelatory scene), but one realizes that he is there to bring balance to this town full of motley characters where violence is percolating.
The scenery helps to add to the mood. The isolation, the coldness, the rocky mountains in the distance that allude to being walled in even in the spacious surroundings – this is using the natural world to the advantage of the story. And the story works here. You are hooked from the first episode, although the series does lose its way from time to time, it has a strong finish.
Fortitude was shot in HD on ARRI Alexa M and ARRI Alexa Plus cameras. The production is infused with arctic cold from the desaturated color palette to the very presence of snow that covers nearly every inch of ground in the outdoor shots. The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement on Blu-ray conveys this flawlessly with lots of detail and texture that pics up the granularity of the icy snow on the ground and the creviced face of Sheriff Dan Anderssen, and does it all with incredible contrast and no issues with noise, edge enhancement or artifacts.
Only a stereo audio mix is provided in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit). It’s disappointing that a 5.1 mix couldn’t have been supplied to help capture some of the atmosphere of the cold, windy arctic surroundings, but this stereo mix does the job with clear dialogue and a good bit of stereo panning. It’s also effective at reproducing the mixture of musical accompaniment which ranges from ’80s and contemporary electronica to moody AAA.
- 30-minutes of Bonus Content including behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew. (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:32:51)
The Definitive Word
Death in the quiet and cold of a small isolated town; what could be scarier? Fortitude is a slow churning mystery that keeps the viewer on edge and unsettled until the very end. It’s a unique and well done thriller that mystery fans will enjoy.
Additional Screen Captures