During the turbulent era of 1970s London, when trade union strikes and power cuts crippled the country, Cold War paranoia was at a high, with many believing Communist Russia to be organising the defiant activism of workers.
MI6 agent Charles Thoroughgood, played by Charlie Cox, is given a mission that is not only at the centre of this tense international situation, but also deep at the heart of his own personal existence. He’s forced to exploit an old friendship with a Russian from his Oxford days, Viktor Koslov, who now works for the Russians, and he uncovers a shocking revelation about the espionage activities of his recently deceased father.
The plot is compelling, mixing the high drama and politics of MI6 practice, with the emotional turmoil of Thoroughgood as he struggles to come to terms with the news that has turned his existence upside down. What the drama is lacking however, is a sense of pace and thrill; events seem to plod along slowly and too much time is spent trying to build a tense or poignant atmosphere rather than on action and dialogue.
The grim and grey streets of London are swapped only for the grim and grey sands of Suffolk, and the drama starts to become monotonous and dull, rather than edgy and exciting. The acting was well executed and moving, especially Cox’s tormented young spy, but Andrew Scott, as the coerced Russian agent, and Romola Garai, as the token blonde love interest, played formulaic roles that never really developed beyond their archetypes.
Legacy provides a good story, with enough twists and turns to keep its audience engaged, but it lacks the thrill and chase of a truly good spy drama.
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