The Night Manager
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Coleman, Elizabeth Debicki, Alastair Petrie, Michael Nardone, Hovik Keuchkerian, Adeel Akhtar, Tom Hollander, Douglas Hodge, David Harewood, et. al.
Jonathan Pine, the night concierge at a Cairo hotel, is unwittingly placed in the middle of a MI-6 investigation into Richard Roper, an internationally renowned businessman, philanthropist, humanitarian, who has been using his status to run weapons smuggling ring around the world. After a guest places a list of weapons being sold by Roper in Pines hands, he anonymously hands the information over to British Intelligence and attempts to keep woman who gave him the information safe. After he fails and she is killed, Pine leaves his job and seeks employment elsewhere, eventually landing in a remote Swiss hotel, where he encounters Roper himself. Fueled by a need for revenge, Pine offers himself to MI-6 as a possible mole in Roper’s group of friends and associates. As Pine gets closer to Roper’s inner circle, lines get blurred, and Pine’s motives become less clear, as he becomes dangerously close to losing his life in order to get justice for Roper’s victims.
This slow-burning spy drama, based on the novel by John le Carré, is a serialized show that takes its time in unraveling. While you are presented with the knowledge that Roper is a backroom arms dealer early on, the real test is if and how the evidence will get into the hands of the agents Pine reports to. Roper himself is possessive and paranoid, to the point where he doesn’t allow anyone but his young son have a cell phone unless absolutely necessary. The story itself holds enough interest to keep you watching, and the one-hour episode format gives viewers a chance to walk away and process information without overwhelming them.
The acting is we done. Laurie seems to be having fun playing the bad guy, which isn’t something he seems to do very often. Hiddleston’s performance is superb, with him infusing a bit of barely-contained rage into nearly every scene he shares with Laurie. Since the show was originally filmed for the BBC before being picked up by AMC, a few of the actors are Brits playing Americans, though the accents are spot-on. Everyone else appears to be using their natural accents.
The scenery is beautiful. Filmed mostly on the Mediterranean coast, there’s a sunny warmth in most of the scenes, which is a nice counter to the grim dealings of the characters. There are a few noticeable special effects in the form of rather impressive explosions, with anything else being background filler or practical blood effects for the few gruesome death scenes.
I would recommend this series. The story is interesting, and there are times when you wonder if Pine was won over by Roper’s charm and the luxury of his lifestyle. It is something you’d have to pay attention to, but it’s worth the time and effort. It does end on a bit of an odd note, however, with little actual closure given to most of the characters.
The Night Manager is available to stream through Amazon Prime, and can be rented through Netflix home delivery service or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.
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