Don’t be put off by the slightly tame title – The Night Manager is anything but. The six-part ‘cloak-and-dagger’ drama boasts a high profile cast and features stunning locations, as we follow Tom Hiddleston’s eponymous night manager/soldier-turned- spy Jonathan Pine as he leaves a trail of destruction after uncovering an illegal arms deal. The series cleverly weaves spine-chilling, suspenseful scenes with witty dialogue as well as fast-paced action, so there is plenty to engage.
In episode one, the action begins in Cairo, during the 2011 Egyptian uprising under President Mubarak. There’s clashes of colour and sound as Pine navigates grenades and bullets with unflinching ease – no doubt foreshadowing his ability to keep his cool in the most dangerous of situations. This is a credit to Hiddleston’s superb acting, his seamless composure is evident throughout all three episodes and so cements Pine as a true espionage. This episode is particularly atmospheric; I relished the beautiful cinematography of Cairo’s luxurious Nefertiti Hotel with its blue and gold furnishings, as well as the soft focus camerawork of the eerily bleak mountainside cabin in the Swiss Alps. The setting was especially important for me in this episode as it really strengthened the idea that Pine isn’t safe no matter where he runs.
By episode two the pace has been considerably ramped up, and while the location changes may have aided my viewing before, I now found it somewhat hindering as we hotfoot around Mallorca, London and Devon trying to keep up with Pine. There is some jumping forwards and backwards in time, requiring careful concentration, which at points gets a little difficult. But there is more of interest in terms of content and I enjoyed the witty exchanges between the reptilian Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) and Pine. A standout scene was between Olivia Colman and Hiddleston, where Colman gives an intense, empowered speech directed at Pine, whilst somehow managing to maintain all the brightness and charisma that Colman excels at.
Episode three once again sets the action in dreamy Mallorca, where at this point I perhaps enjoyed the stunning scenery a little too much – watching Elizabeth Debicki’s Jed float around in ethereal dresses and tiny bikinis made me want to jet off to sunnier climes before the episode ended – and caused me to sidestep the problem at hand of both Pine and Roper’s numerous illegalities. In this episode, the pace is slowed once again and instead replaced with larger chunks of dialogue as each character is slowly unravelled. One scene showing the uncovering of a husband-cheating-with-the-nanny situation I found a little clunky, but since the entire series thus far has been so beautifully shot and acted, I am finding little to stand in the way of what is proving to be TV bliss.
Now at the halfway mark of the series, I am well and truly won over – for me, this is Bond-esque watching with more intrigue, more suspense, and more charm (with the prerequisite sun and sex, of course.)
Image courtesy of usadaily,com.