This highly anticipated and incredibly well-revered show is an impeccably written one. Its based on a novel (of the same name) written by John Le Carre in 1993. Production companies had toyed with the idea of doing it as a movie in years previous but thought it would loose too much by trying to squeeze it into a two hour slot – but eventually BBC & AMC made this dream a reality with a 6 episode mini-series that came out last year. Before we delve into anything to do with the plot, it has been announced that there will be a second series of this. Initially the writers and producers had made no plans at all of this and denied scripting a second series when the first one came out (2015) granted a long amount of time has passed since then and only in the last few months (beginning of 2017) did talks of this arise, this makes me a little more hopefully that the second season wont be a let down to this magnificent series as they’re taking their time with it. (This was literally the main cause of why the second series of True Detective was as poorly constructed as it was) So fingers crossed they learn from other series mistakes and take their time to create a script for the next series that will not disappoint.
Rating : 9/10
The story follows a hotel’s night manager and ex-soldier ‘Johnathan Pine’ (Tom Hiddleston) and a billionaire philanthropist ‘Richard Onslow Roper’ (Hugh Laurie) who is an incredibly successful warlord / international arms dealer, selling missiles & napalm to the highest discretionary bidder (The last part the world isn’t aware of and he’s hailed as an altruist/ incredibly charitable man). So the hook of the show is that Pine (Hiddleston) is being put in an undercover and covert mission to infiltrate the war lords kingdom. Its similar in plot structure to “The Departed” in that literally no one but the two operative’s he’s in contact with are even aware that he’s a piece of intelligence in play.
An intelligence operative Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman) recruits Pine to try and infiltrate Roper’s (Laurie’s) operation. In the book, Burr’s character was a male but the producers loved the idea of Coleman as the metaphorical ‘man’ in charge.
Hugh Laurie was extremely excited about playing this role once he read the script, he felt that “I’ve been training to play a baddie for years” so this was, he felt a natural progression from his character Greg House in House MD. He always felt such freedom in portraying the antagonists roles as your not playing up to public perception and his portrayal of Richard Roper was a glorious one. (Roper being this series antagonist) He instills the perfect combination of charm and fear to the viewer and his contemporaries. Having religiously (yes I’m aware of the pun) watched House, I have long been a fan of Laurie’s work in every facet of his career. (actor, comedian, musician etc..) His portrayal of the vindictive and fear-inducing Richard Onslow Roper has expanded his repertoire of range when it comes to content, and you really begin to toy with the ‘malevolence’ of his organisation, as we are currently in the era of the “anti-hero” It’s easy to condone some of his actions…. ‘some’ being the operative word there.
We meet Roper’s companion the elusive, yet complex ‘Jedd’. Whose side story is one that explores an emotional depth that i was a little taken aback by. Elizabeth Debicki is the actress’ name and this was the first thing I’d seen her in that actually explored her range as an actress. She was a minor role in The Great Gatsby (the new one) but her involvement was minimal so i was intrigued to see what she could do given a well-crafted platform. She didn’t disappoint.
In my opinion this is a series that should be watched closely together. There is only six episodes. Its structure is a little like a six-hour movie, in that the first episode is setting the scene and laying down the groundwork. As this is a Le Carre creation the series creates such intense suspense, It’s another production thats winning across the board, cast, script, set design etc.. There isn’t a facet of this series that i would change. As Roper (Laurie’s character) is an arms dealer, there is some demonstrations to potential buyers that leave the hair on your arms standing up, as his line of business is a spectators sport.
There are countless moments of complete and sheer terror, this is not a show id recommend for the fainthearted or children.
We’ve some icy eyes, the direction in this series again has been exploring new methods, the extreme close up shots emphasize the intensity of the conversation taking place, the potential of claustrophobia occurring from our protagonists questionable proximity to violence, destruction, torture and arms. Bored is one thing that i can promise you, you will not be during the episodes.
And well chosen words of awe.
As Hiddleton’s character is effectively a spy/ involved in international espionage, (a part he plays to perfection) there was a surge of Night Manager fans propelling the actor into the list of the potential new “Bond” hopefuls. After having watched the series i imagine Hiddleston would have fared well, but personally i think Idris Elba would be perfect as the new Bond.
We get to see the ludicrously decadent lives of the arms dealers that were infiltrating, with private islands that really do make you question your ‘right and wrong’ beliefs when it comes to making a living with criminal tendencies instead of moral ones…. The cinematography is again another facet of this show thats done pretty perfectly.
Along with some heavy artillery orders. (The series gives you a glimpse into the lives of the consumer market of these kinds of purchases, what systems are in place and what structures construct them.)
We encounter an omnipotent and incensed man, at times you can literally feel his anger rolling off him in fear-inducing waves. Like Tommy Shelby, this is not a man you cross lightly.
The creators of the series organised a cameo to be made by none other than the author John Le Carre (of whose book the series is based on) he was actually on set for a significant proportion of filming to work with the scriptwriters so that the ‘integrity’ of the story remained in the transition to television.
We witness one truly decadent dressing-gown.
Occasional moments of bliss.
And lastly, some damn diabolical one-liners.
This show is intelligent, insightful, well-crafted and though-provoking. The intro alone tells you that its going to be a revered one. It blends together symbols of wealth and affluence morphing into weapons of destruction. A post on it alone could nearly be justified. A few examples :
Classy isn’t it? I would personally recommend viewing this series in three sittings. As there’s six, you watch two episodes at a time. Each are hour long (not 45 minutes with ad breaks). Sit down and enjoy, you wont regret it.