The Night Manager is a six part miniseries event based upon the book by John le Carré. It airs in the United States starting tonight on AMC; I was able to catch the series on BBC before it formally airs here in the States. I wanted to talk a bit about the series as a whole, and whether you should bother investing time in it before we all lose our minds over Game of Thrones (airing Sunday April 29th, on HBO!).
The series has been on my radar for a bit, mainly because I’m a sucker for slow burn dramas. Broadchurch was a murder mystery drama that sucked me in for the first season (and lost my interest during the second season) but its these types of shows, the ones that take their time to world-build and take care in revealing the endgame that I’m beginning to enjoy more and more.
This series features some pretty heavy acting talent in the form of Tom Hiddleston playing Johnathan Pine (it’s great to see him play something besides Loki from the Marvel universe) and one of my favorite actors, Hugh Laurie playing the international arms dealer that Pine is tasked with taking down–Richard Roper.
There’s also some great performances from Elizabeth Debicki as Roper’s girlfriend, Jed Marshall, and some pretty good stuff from Oliva Colman as Angela Burr, who is a staple of British television and movies. (Seriously, she’s just about in everything you can think of, including Broadchurch).
Johnathan Pine is the titular Night Manager and the story begins in Cairo during the Revolution of 2003. He is in charge of the Nefertiti Hotel and is basically just trying to get his guests to safety from the bombings and rioting taking place outside. Immediately you understand that he is a very caring person–Hiddleston really sells us on the fact that this is a man who will do whatever he can for a person in need.
Some shit goes down, though, and unfortunately Johnathan goes on a Sabbatical in the Alps in order to get away from the past.
And that’s where Richard (Or Dicky Roper as he likes to call himself) comes into play with his large posse. Checking into the hotel that Pine is now manager of, you get introduced to not only Roper, but the people who make up his life: Sandy, his right hand man…Corky, his head of Security, Frisky–the muscle, and Roper’s girlfriend, Jed, whom has no qualms about flirting with Johnathan very early on.
Up until this point, I would say that the plot is plausible. Sure, it strains plausibility that Roper would just happen to waltz into the same hotel as Pine (just remember that everything is connected in this story and you’ll see why I said that) but then again perhaps not. Pine, after all, works in extremely fancy hotels and Roper only stays in the best.
Laurie plays Roper as a very straight family man for most of the series. Almost for the entire first part of the series, I was wondering why this man was such a villain. I mean, I know he’s an international arms dealer and all but he didn’t seem like such a bad guy at all. He treats his people well, loves his family…but that’s Laurie just pulling the wool over your eyes.
There’s a quiet, manic evilness brooding just behind the surface of Roper. Oliva Colman’s character, Angela Burr, the leader of the sting operation to take Roper down, tells a story deep into the series about how she first learned of Roper and what sort of man he is. It really sets in stone how evil and sadistic Richard Roper is–something that was really needed because Hugh Laurie is a god damned charmer in this show and I was actually rooting for him at one point.
Another charmer is Pine, of course, played by the delightful Hiddleston. For some reason, everyone is in love with Pine–he is able to easily seduce people to help in his mission, and in some cases, turn friends of Roper against each other. I could think of no one better to make that work than Hiddleston, who just seems to be a super nice guy in real life.
My one major qualm about the whole show–which is tautly paced, and well written–is just how easily Pine is accepted into Roper’s family. There is one defining moment which sets Pine on a course to be in Roper’s inner circle–which works, but it works a bit too well. Richard Roper is supposed to be someone who is super cautious about whom he lets be apart of his life–and here he is, accepting a perfect stranger into his inner sanctum. Regardless of just how well forged Pine’s history is (for instance, he is not always named Johnathan Pine but various pseudonyms throughout the series) it still strains belief that Richard Roper would let someone influence him so much after knowing him for such a short period of time.
In fact, it’s a bit ridiculous that Pine turns Roper against his people so quickly, and that Roper doesn’t really grow that suspicious until far too late.
However, that being said, the show is gorgeously shot, and will leave you guessing as to what happens next throughout the entire six part series. The performances were stellar (I loved, loved, loved Tom Hollander as Corky) and it takes you to some pretty interesting places. If you’re in the mood for a good espionage thriller, let the Night Manager take you on a journey.