An Englishman, Jonathan Pine (played by Tom Hiddleston), is working as the night manager of a Cairo hotel. He gets involved with a local woman who is the girlfriend of a local gangster. Through her relationship with the gangster she has acquired information linking illegal international arms sales with Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), an English billionaire. She is soon found dead, murdered due to her having this information. Fearing for his own life, Pine flees, ending up working at a remote hotel in Switzerland. Four years pass, and then Roper visits the Swiss hotel. This rekindles Pines thirst for revenge, and he is enlisted by British Intelligence to spy on Roper. What follows is a very dangerous game of intrigue and deception. Written by
This TV series is the best ever adaptation of a John le Carré novel. The direction by Danish director Susanne Bier is sheer genius. She knows exactly when to insert a closeup of a single malevolent eye of Hugh Laurie, just to unsettle us. The casting is perfect, the script by David Farr is perfect, the direction, the story, are all perfect. Hugh Laurie is so brilliant at being a master criminal with charm that it is difficult to imagine anyone else doing anywhere near as well in the part of arch-villain Dickie Roper. Tom Hiddleston is a revelation. Even though he played Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allen's MIDNIGHT IN Paris (2011, see my review), I must confess that I had never otherwise heard of him before. He seems to have 'come out of nowhere', nowhere being a long series of TV things and rather obscure productions one does not easily incline to see. But here he is, all super-starish, sprung fully fledged from the brow of whoever had the inspiration to cast him in the lead for this series. And then there is the amazing Elizabeth Debicki, lithe and beautiful and spell-binding. And then there is the truly wonderful Olivia Colman, one of my favourite actresses. (Am I allowed to prefer her even to Elizabeth Debicki? Am I mad?) With a cast like this, nothing could go wrong. And another of my favourite actors, David Hodge, with his look of earnest conscience, is in there too. It is all simply too wonderful. Nor dare I forget to mention the amazing Tom Hollander. Who could have imagined that he could so readily play a psychopathic killer? Once again, one cannot imagine any other actor having been better in the role of 'Corky'. This was just perfection, that's what it was. Tom Hollander has become so versatile it is almost scary. As he is so good at everything, I expect to see him come down my chimney next Christmas as Santa. This six-part series is gripping edge-of-the-seat stuff for every second. A huge budget was lavished on the production, with a great deal of use made of locations, namely Morocco, Mallorca, Zermatt, Egypt, the UK, and Turkey, and many aerial drone or helicopter sequences were used to great effect. TV series do not usually have that kind of money to spend. And it all paid off, every penny of it. This was truly TV drama of the highest imaginable calibre. This inside portrait of an international arms dealer's world, and the attempts to penetrate it, is riveting. Le Carré reminds us of the duplicity of all governments and venality of so many civil servants by showing the insider treachery of the Foreign Office and 'River House' mandarins in London, who, far from wishing to catch Dickie Roper and put him out of business, are actually supplying him with the very arms which he is selling to unsavoury people in the Middle East. So Tom Hiddleston and Olivia Colman, who are risking their lives to bring a monster down, are being blocked at every turn by the 'Establishment'. Alas, too true, too true. If you are the nervous sort, you won't have many fingernails left if you watch this all the way through. But it is a series of such rare excitement and spectacular impact that we can only cry out pathetically: 'More! More!' It is streets ahead of HOMELAND and any other possible competitor. It has style and brilliance like no other suspense series.
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