Over the past six weeks BBC One has unfolded a dramatic telling of The Night Manager, adapted from the novel of the same name by John Le Carre. The thriller revolves around a hotel night manager Jonathan Pine, who tethers between justice and revenge on his crusade to take down wicked arms dealer, Richard Roper. Starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, the final segment aired last night, and as such it’s time for a lengthy review.
Call me Goldilocks but I think six episodes was just right for this adaptation; one more and events would have felt sluggish, one less and things would have moved at warp speed. The series had a slow but intriguing start, as we are brought into the story in the middle of chaos in Cairo. The momentum of said chaos continues almost all of the way through the first episode, as things go from bad to worse for Jonathan Pine. It is in this episode that we see the type of man he is, and can wager a guess as to how his character will progress.
After the first two episodes however the series sits slap-bang in the middle of being only mildly interesting. I wasn’t quite buzzing for the next episode and yet I still tuned in from week to week. By the forth episode I realised I could care less (by not caring at all) about what was happening in London with Whitehall. Here I admit my mantra (Never judge a series by its pilot…etc) is slightly harder to enforce as British Drama tends to have painfully short series lengths. In the case of The Night Manager, by the time I got to the third episode, I was already halfway through and figured I might as well watch the rest.
(From left to right we have; Roper, Pine, Jed, Angela and Corky.)
What I liked the most about Roper was that even though we knew he was the Devil, we still liked him. This could have all been down to Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of him, but we saw him as a business man that loved his son and his girlfriend. This then made it seem that the bone Angela had to pick with Roper was a figment of her imagination, siding with the devil is a difficult trick to pull off, and was done almost effortlessly here.
Pine on the other hand I didn’t like as much to begin with. His stoicism, fake laugh and nosiness honestly pissed me off. Sure they threw in shots like this to try and distract us;
But I wasn’t swayed. His infiltration of Roper’s life was a thorn in my side – I know, I know; I’m not supposed to route for the bad guy. But Pine didn’t have enough depth or personality for me to see him as anything but a spanner in the works.
Jed; The mandatory love interest. I want to first state that I loved the actress that they chose – Elizabeth Debicki. The direction they went in with having a woman who would at first be perceived as strong in her almost Amazonian features, juxtaposed with the characters fragility worked really well. That being said, of the character herself; I couldn’t quite pin down her motives or her personality. One minute she was a drug addict, the next a damsel in distress, she was both naive and a little bit sassy and it made my head hurt.
I don’t know what it was but I couldn’t stand Angela Burr. She was the intelligence operative with a vendetta against Roper that in my opinion wasn’t solid enough to warrant her obsession in bringing him down. I get that she was supposed to be the underdog, she was independent and didn’t back down to the big bad bullies at work, yet despite all of that, I never once routed for her to win.
Last but not least we have Corky. His role wasn’t very large but Tom Hollander – whom I love and adore – did a fantastic job of making him memorable. Corky is a long time friend of Roper, who takes one lustful look at Pine, and knows that he’s bad news. The journey of the circumstances surrounding his storyline, was a major plot hole if you ask me. It didn’t make sense because of the way they had painted the characters out to be – and unfortunately that’s all I can say without giving too much away.
(I’m almost done I swear.)
Piggybacking off of my last comment about plot holes, here are a few others that came to mind whilst I was watching the series, that rocked the boat of believability.
The driving force that propelled Pine to go on his take-down mission was incredibly weak. Surprise, surprise it was because of a woman, but the specifics of which (that I will refrain from mentioning) made me sit up and say; Hang on, if I was in his shoes I would be a little sad, but it really wouldn’t be that deep.
The predictable love triangle was all well and good, however I saw no reason for Jed to suddenly decide to jump ship other than the fact that it satisfied conventions. Finally something that I only realised in the last episode; Almost everyone seemed to be an Oxbridge bred, rich and well spoken white man. Where the heck was the rest of England the entire time all the events took place?
I always make it sound like I hate everything I review, but honest that’s not the case! I just love being judge, jury and executioner. So to change all of that, on a last note, I would like to sing the following praises about The Night Manager; I loved the almost invasive close ups that made you feel like you were violating the characters emotions, the hold of the camera to the point of awkwardness during lingering and accusatory glances, and finally the overall sense of satisfactory completion as events came full circle.
The Night Manager was a good watch and also something a little different than the norm of BBC One Drama (Period and Police). It was cast well and it was compelling, and I would be happy to see something similar crop up again this year.