There is a great deal of fun to Nightwatch. Ole Bornedal creates a great opening. He sets up the cocksure, incredibly handsome hero Nicholaj Coster Waldau and then proceeds to progressively wear his confidence down from the introduction to the job by his creepy geriatric predecessor suggesting that he get a radio to deal with the silence, then learning he has to cross a room of dead bodies in order to check the key that has been improbably located there to stories luridly told about a former necrophile colleague and how he will get bad breath, while his concerns about the alarm or what happens if the door shuts are offhandedly dismissed: Dont worry thatll never happen. On the first night on the job, Ole Bornedal gets right inside Waldaus fear at being left alone there the scene opens with a song playing on the soundtrack, which suddenly fades into echoing silence as the lights go off with Waldau left having to cross the morgue on his own to check the key. Borndeal maintains the film with a superbly tight series of twists and black comic loops Kim Bodnja as the out-of-control best friend and their dares, the games with the hooker, even the detectives seemingly irrelevant request for a sperm sample. Nightwatch is a film that has been entirely contrived as a series of sharp reversals and nagging uncertainties and twists. It is contrived but the twists and turns that Ole Bornedal puts Nicholaj Coster Waldau and the audience through are superb. There is a remarkably tensely sustained climax with the killer having Nicholaj Coster Waldau and girlfriend Sophie Gråbøl tied up and about to kill them with Kim Bodnja is handcuffed up and facing the choice of whether to sever his own hand with a knife to get free to save them or not.
There is also an undeniably scabrous undertow to Nightwatch something that was considerably watered down in the American remake with Nicholaj Coster Waldaus friend Kim Bodnja introducing him to an underage hooker and paying her to give him a blowjob in the midst of a restaurant; sex in the morgue; talk of necrophilia; and a blasphemously funny scene where Kim Bodnja takes communion and then throws up in the baptismal font.
Steven Soderbergh brought Ole Bornedal to America to direct an English-language remake Nightwatch (1998) for Dimension Films, starring Ewan MacGregor in the Nicholaj Coster Waldau role, Patricia Arquette as the girlfriend and Nick Nolte as the detective. Although plagued by troubled distribution, this is also worthwhile. Ole Bornedal follows the original exceedingly closely, sometimes even replicating scenes shot-for-shot, although the American version cleans the scabrous undertone of the original up somewhat. Ole Bornedal does also have the benefit of Steven Soderbergh co-writing the script with him.
(Winner in this sites Top 10 Films of 1994 list).