Come for Tom Hiddleston’s beautiful face and voice, stay for the incredible scenery and the tense thriller plot – 4/5
Director: Susanne Bier
Screenplay: David Farr (Spooks, Hanna)
Adapted from the novel The Night Manager by John Le Carre
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Coleman, Elizabeth Debicki, Tom Hollander
Length: 6 x 1 hour episodes
Anything with Tom Hiddleston in it I’m down for, purely for his voice. And also his great acting skills. The Hiddle plays Jonathan Pine, a night manager in a hotel in Egypt during the Arab Spring. He is approached by a lady Sophie (Aure Atika), the mistress of an Arab arms dealer who has ties to international arms dealer Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie). She has incriminating documents she wants Pine to send to Egyptian authorities. Pine does this, and also sends them to his contact in MI6, despite Sophie’s warnings that Roper has friends in the British intelligence. Without giving too much away, shit goes down and Jonathan, an ex-soldier, ends up by being recruited into the secret service by head of a small counter arms proliferation office Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman) as part of an operation against Roper.
Everything about this show is exciting, slick and beautiful to watch. I’m not sure I really understood what was going on some of the time, but that didn’t really matter as this show made it very easy to just go along for the ride. The host of incredible actors inhabit an array of enigmatic, interesting characters and I liked that we never found out everything about any person, just enough to make us understand their motivations and character, so we never lost the sense that they’ve all experienced a lot of stuff to inform the decisions they makes now. As well as Tom Hiddle’s incredible voice, Tom Hollander was a definite highlight as Roper’s malevolent but hilarious sidekick, as was Elizabeth Debicki as Roper’s girlfriend Jed with a mysterious past, and Olivia Coleman continues being flawless as always. Hugh Laurie I feel was an interesting choice for the villain, probably because I know him best from Jeeves and Wooster and I’ve never watched House. But his harmless appearance and charming British manner made it completely convincing that he has managed to get away with his evil deeds for so long. And when Roper got evil he was pretty terrifying.
The scenery is just as much the star of the show as the actors with spectacular sweeping shots from the Swiss scenery to Roper’s mansion in Malorca, strikingly contrasted with the grim poky office of Angela Burr and her team in London. We can feel the heat of Egypt and almost smell the desert in the Middle East.
The story has been updated from the novel which was published in 1993 to include the Arab Spring of 2011 and the arms dealing done by Roper is implied to be linked to Syria, which was a really great way to make the story very relevant and very urgent. It makes Pine’s mission not just to stop an evil man, but to help stop an evil trade that is currently creating the refugee crisis effecting the entire world.
There are rumours that John Le Carre might be writing a sequel to the book so another TV series can be made (apparently John won’t let anyone make shows from his stories that aren’t adaptations) and although this series is perfectly complete in itself, I would not say no to seeing Tom and Olivia back fighting crime together again.