Mr. Good: Cop or Crook? is a fascinating story presented in a docuseries that’s a watered down finished product.
Netflix crime docuseries Mr. Good: Cop or Crook? was released on the streaming service on June 3, 2022.
The latest Netflix crime docuseries, Mr. Good: Cop or Crook?, is a fascinating story told in a way that tries to create mystery deliberately instead of presenting the plain facts. Here, why not tell a story straight and leave any ambiguity behind? Because Netflix is in the habit of stretching documentaries past their limits. You know the ones that should top out at two hours into a minimum four-episode event. Yes, the story is jaw-dropping. Yet, the real mystery is how far the authorities let their top star in law enforcement tumble down the rabbit hole and operate there. That story is never given an explanation with enough credibility.
Imagine if John McClaine, Vincent Hannah, or Marge Gunderson went terrible. Very bad. That’s what Erik Jensen is in jail for. One of Norway’s most decorated law enforcement officers helped take down dozens of drug organizations. How? By being unconventional. He would immerse himself in the experience of rubbing shoulders with notorious gangs, including the Hell’s Angels. They moved into the country in the 90s. Jensen also had what many may describe as luck, cultivating and using informants to make arrests and drug seizures.
One of those was Gjermund Cappelen. He grew so fond of him that he even spent time away from his family to check him into rehab. However, as it turns out, Cappelen was a wealth of information that made Jensen’s career. Case after case, Norway’s most decorated officer brought in scores that baffled the ranks. Yet, Cappelen built (or, according to who you talk to, already had) a drug empire. The most notorious at the top of the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” When internal affairs see him and uncover messages referring to the trade between them for seven years, the authorities determine Jensen was working with Cappelem to traffic kilos of hashish. Through elimination, the pointed-to text messages from the head smugglers to a Mr. Good. All in code and must be the commander in question.
Directed by Trond Kvig Andreassen and Ragne Risse, they use a mix of archival footage, interviews, and some light reenactments (always a pet peeve for a documentary or docuseries) to paint a complicated web of ambiguity. Did Jensen know about Cappelem’s operation and turn a blind eye? Did he calculate the odds and decide his informant giving him information, most likely undercutting his competitors to clear the way for his fortune, was for the greater good? Or simply did one hand wash the other? So Jensen could move up the ranks by closing significant cases and Cappelem to operate under the protection of Norway’s police force?
The case parallels the one of Whitey Bulger, the notorious Boston gangster that shockingly was an informant of the FBI. (There was also the rampant speculation that his brother William, president of the Massachusetts state senate, communicated with him when he was a fugitive but denied helping him with his criminal activities). Very few can operate at a high level without being caught and often need protection. Which is the argument the authorities are making here, but without government sign-off.
You could argue his superiors turned a blind eye. Maybe riding his coattails, then leaving him high and dry when it had become clear there was a blurring of the lines. Could Jensen’s self-righteous attitude find everyone quickly aligned against him? However, common sense tells you that even if he chose to turn a blind eye, he wasn’t doing his job. Not realizing he was the country’s most significant drug trafficker is an act of gross incompetence.
Still, for someone to continuously reject plea offers and maintain their innocence does make you question could this be a case of trusting the wrong person? Erik Jensen is now in jail, serving twenty-one years in prison, and his appeals have been denied. It’s a fascinating case, and the filmmakers do an admirable job giving equal treatment on both sides, including the leading figures’ penchant for explaining every detail that will raise eyebrows. (Jensen earning most of his unexplained money with scuba diving lessons was a colorful eyebrow-raiser).
The final product leaves you with more questions than answers, which is the main issue. This series is expanded into a four-part documentary that feels like an artificial dedication to creating more doubt than necessary. This has the unintended consequence of watering down the final product. Your enjoyment of the documentary series will be dependent on your belief in Jensen’s potential innocence, which stretches credibility. There is more fluff than needed here.
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