How to introduce The Night Manager? That might be a bit tricky; one look at its impressive cast would probably send you into a fanatical, wheezing fit, if you’re a fan of great British TV. Fortunately, in this daring drama Tom Hiddleston is available on hand as the enigmatic hotelier-turned-spy to resuscitate you…maybe.
Based on the John le Carré novel of the same name, this adaptation of The Night Manager has been updated to suit current day situations and events, moving from the setting of the Cold War to the Arab Spring. The production budget has clearly been set quite high, as the camera blissfully sweeps across luscious oceans, capturing every intricate and scenic detail of gorgeous mountain tops and stunning villas: a true testament to the drama’s grandiose nature. It’s certainly an incredibly cinematic and artistic TV drama, and it knows it. Full of riveting drama, sex, and mystery, the series may as well be a prolonged TV film for its careful construction of every artistic element of its production and editing, but you’d expect nothing less, considering the magnitude of its actors.
Television is perhaps a more suitable medium for an adaption of a le Carré novel, and the six part mini-series has plenty of time to fully explore the elements of the thrilling espionage plot. This therefore guarantees a better chance at success, and for the most part, the first palpable taste of The Night Manager is satisfying and offers up a juicy and easily digestible piece of television gold.
Tom Hiddleston stars as the notorious ‘Night Manager’, Jonathan Pine, who is recruited quite suddenly by Angela Burr (Olivia Colman), an intelligence operative who has made it her life’s mission to take down arms dealer and ‘worst man in the world’, Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie). In order to do this he must assimilate himself into Roper’s world through unconventional methods, whilst also trying not to be uncovered by any of Roper’s group, including his girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), and suspicious associate Major Corcoran (Tom Hollander). As suspected, Hiddleston is utterly convincing in his role, able to show the darker, more committed side to his character that comes with his need to infiltrate big business, whilst also switching between the smart and more faux-courteous side of the role.
Laurie also flexes his villainous side, proving he doesn’t always have to be the good guy. Laurie manages to embody every characteristic of the ruthless Roper, despite not being on screen for more than a few minutes at a time, which is quite a feat for even a seasoned actor. There is something utterly commanding about his screen presence that is captivating if only for every few fleeting seconds before he saunters off no doubt to orchestrate another crime or two.
Whilst there has been very little Laurie/Hiddleston play-off so far, the show inevitably tempts you with a few interactions in the first episode which set the foundations for a truly charismatic and satisfying partnership between Laurie and Hiddleston. If the series manages to capitalize fully on this potential then it will be thoroughly intriguing to watch. If not, it will certainly be utterly disappointing.
After her successful role in Broadchurch, Olivia Colman takes on another policing role as intelligence operative Angela Burr. While it might be difficult to compete with immovable acting forces, Colman stands her ground, and delivers quite a few prominent speeches to both her colleagues and Hiddleston’s Pine. In particular, her dialogue with Hiddleston is expertly drafted and delivered with such undying conviction that you truly believe this is a woman who is utterly committed to her country and her cause, and knows the risks that this particular mission entails for both herself and Pine.
What The Night Manager has in store for us in later episodes is still uncertain, but this is an intriguing first look at a series which, providing it makes use of the talent and budget at its disposal, should be a thoroughly enjoyable affair that finally manages to do le Carré’s novel justice.