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Involving political thriller
on 25 May 2007
This certainly turned out to be a most satisfying alternative to the usual TV thrillers out there that rely on police procedure or crime solving. Here, the lynch pin of the story is Sir Mark Dryden, the British Ambassador to the US, played by Jason Isaacs. Frankly, this is probably the most effective role I have seen him in, and is certainly a world away from playing Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter movies.
This is a truly British type of story, with dominantly British characters and with a complex plot. However, it is set in America, featuring all the landmarks we would expect to see in an American thriller.. the West Wing, Lincoln Memorial, etc. To add to the American mix, we even have a recognizable star of American TV - Sharon Gless, who completely casts aside her past in Cagney and Lacey here to embrace the role of Secretary of Defence with a real sense of grit.
Perhaps the most British aspect of this series is the underlying criticism of certain aspects of government - not least The Patriot Act which comes under fire along the way. Certainly terrorism and its origins are at the very foreground of the action.
To reveal too much about the plot would be unfair, but in a nutshell, Sir Mark is caught up in a web of deceit when a plane leaving for London is blown up, apparently by terrorists. Meantime, a Brit is on Death Row protesting his innocence. Could the two be connected...? Suffice to say many more plot strands arise, and interweave in a manner designed to satisfy and keep you glued to the end.
A 6 part mini-series, one hour per episode, was the perfect format for this thriller - instead of a rushed movie, the characters have enough time to develop and breathe, while the plot never slacks pace.
The only criticism to be made, is that they have followed the American model of TV making just a little too far with the ultra rapid editing and `24' style jump cuts. There is enough thrill on the screen from the plot and the acting without this rather incongruous attempt at accentuating the kinetics - without this minor quibble, this would be a 5 star gem.