Jo Nesbø’s seedy crime epic The Son is getting a limited series adaptation on HBO Max, where Jake Gyllenhaal will executive produce and star in the tale of vengeance and redemption in Oslo’s grimy underbelly. Film auteur Denis Villeneuve is on hand to produce and direct along with Westworld producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, so there’s reason to think this might be worth watching. And as fans of Nesbø’s novel already know, The Son has a pretty hefty bit of biblical metaphor woven throughout.
It follows the misadventures of Sonny Lofthus, a guy who regularly takes the fall for crimes he didn’t commit in exchange for a steady supply of drugs to feed his habit. But when he finds out his father’s suicide wasn’t quite what it seemed, he turns on the corrupt elite who’d long counted on him to stay quiet, busts out of jail and gets busy on a mission to take Oslo’s criminal syndicate down.
Drugs, corruption and death may not sound like fertile soil for a biblical allegory and to be sure, the novel is hyper violent and the HBO tag probably means this won’t be one for the kids, but Nesbø’s novel clearly has Jesus on the brain — with themes of sin, redemption, good and evil woven throughout. Despite the many R-rated dealings that take place throughout the book, the Christological content is a lot more explicit than one might expect, and Nesbø’s been frank about his biblical influences. We’ll stay away from spoilers but let’s just say there’s a reason it’s called The Son.