The Night Manager Series Premiere Plot Summary:
Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is the night manager at a posh Egyptian hotel during the Arab Spring uprising. The mistress (Aure Atika) of a notorious arms dealer comes to him with sensitive materials incriminating another wealthy arms dealer (Hugh Laurie) in selling weapons illegally that could wipe out thousands of people in the area. Pine tips off British intelligence — which ultimately sets the lives of many characters in an unexpected direction.
There are some films and television series (or in this case mini-series) that have a classic or feeling of nostalgia around them. Throw on a Rob Rodriguez flick and you’ll feel the nostalgia of a Spaghetti Western, turn on The Walking Dead and you’ll get George Romero vibes.
Then there are those that feel as though they were crafted in another era — a classic era of film and television making.
The BBC adaptation of John le Carre’s novel The Night Manager, currently airing Tuesdays on AMC, feels like a movie that was produced in the heyday of the pot boiling, slow-build film noir and spy drama era of Hollywood. Everything about the sets, the direction, the cinematography, the dialogue, and acting just oozes everything that made aforementioned bygone era so great. It’s a beautifully made and acted premiere episode that meticulously sets you up for a mini-series that should be rife with intrigue and intensity.
At the center of it all is Tom Hiddleston. If you only know him as Loki in the various MCU films he’s appeared in, do yourself a favor and watch him here. The man is a brilliant actor, and it’s refreshing to see him away from the costumes and over-the-top monologues, and see him convey so much emotion with as few words as possible. Watching Hiddleston’s character try to fight off his fear and anger while amongst his newfound enemies in order to maintain (lead by a dynamic Hugh Laurie in a still to be developed role) is as intense. And yet, this scene didn’t need dramatic music, or over the top dialogue, or anything like that — it needed a flash in Hiddleston’s eyes, and sweat across his brow (and some flashbacks didn’t hurt either).
The fact a show can have you white knuckling and uncomfortable just by the look in someone’s eye is the mark of true genius in my book. There are so many easy ways to build tensions but through this simple yet understated convention, it’s way more effective. And give credit to Hiddleston, this is something most actors could not pull of well.
Now, for those conditioned to fast-paced, slam-bang thrillers and dramas, be forewarned — The Night Manager moves at a meticulous pace. It isn’t slow, but it unfolds like a book. There’s details you need to be made aware of, there’s multiple plots that need to be delved into. There’s no dead air here, it just takes its time. If this isn’t your cup of tea, then sadly you should move on.
The future for The Night Manager is extremely bright. There’s a whole cast of excellent British actors: Laurie, Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch, Hot Fuzz), David Harewood (Homeland), and Tobias Menzies (Casino Royale) who we have yet to be introduced or have barely been developed. The trailers for the remainder of the series look amazing, and we have Hiddleston’s character a man who is always cool, calm and collected, who’ll have to shake his entire world up to make things right.
This is classic, must-watch TV.
Rating: 9 out of 10