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VINE VOICEon 13 December 2009
The first two or three episodes of this series are fantastic, exceptionally gripping, mysterious and well-acted. The picture of a near-future Britain dominated by ID cards, CCTV etc is well-evoked and quite believable, mostly, as an extrapolation of present trends. And the central love triangle is very well-done, it packs a good deal of emotional power, as does the growth of Stephen Ezard from remote ivory-tower mathematician to passionate lover and rebel. The wholer thing feels like an updating of 1984, not only because of the obvious 'big Brother' theme but also because the central character Stephen has a similar trajectory to Winston in 1984--he only becomes a rebel, he only begins to realise the monstrous nature of the system, when he falls in love. It is human emotion not high-flown ideals that drive him.
But as things go on, though the action stays good and the characters are just as good as before, the storyline starts to get more and more preposterous and by the end it just feels like the whole thing had got away from the creators a bit. Ends are not properly tied up, people do things randomly, and there are some truly unbelievable moments, which is rather disappointing, which is why I'm giving it four instead of five stars.
However the end is also very similar to 1984 as it offers really very little hope that you can in fact escape the clutches of Big Brother.
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I am such a Benedict Cumberbatch fan. I found this BBC1 series by chance, and was hooked right away. Like the US's 9/11, the UK had a terrorist killing if 213 people at a train station in London. The government really cracked down, and the UK was already the most televised country in Europe. Now, there are police on every corner.

Cumberbatch plays a scientist, Stephen, who was invited to speak about a top secret ID System. He us also trying to find his brother who was working in Afghanistan. Stephen has also fallen in love with his sister-in-law, to complicate matters even more. It took me awhile to try and figure this out. Some of this series is confusing. It seems everyone is under surveillance and under suspicion. The series takes us to some interesting places, and Cumberbatch does not let up,on his brilliance as an actor.

The premise of the series is fascinating and a new take on our future of the survelliant state. The acting is top notch the mystery and suspense deepens, and we become entwined in this series. Well done.

Recommended. prisrob 11-29-13
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on 3 March 2014
Why oh why does production of DVD,s in 2014 NOT cater for or even think of deaf people!!!
I would ask those who make them to spend just 5 minutes with my hearing loss.
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on 26 May 2014
There is absolutely no subtitles. These days, where DVDs can be purchased from around the world, it's a stupidity. To try to understand Robert Carlyle's accent, with a very loud music and no subtitles when English isn't your mother tongue is really hard. The sound track is inappropriate (especially the bass compared to the speech levels).

It is a really nice and gripping story, well written until the last episode. The end is disappointing as if the writers did not know how to finish the story properly.

However, you spend an enjoyable moment watching the first four episodes and where left disappointed by the last one.
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on 1 April 2013
Got this because of a bit of a crush on the lovely Mr Cumberbatch - and was surprised that it was actually quite a good series! The female lead wasn't convincing but the story was quite interesting and the action fast-paced. Worth a view :)
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on 19 March 2008
This movie has a relevant message. It is a great story with a significant conclusion and well worth watching. It covers many issues but the most significant are the intrusion into individuals' privacy and the abuse of the data of them, and a sub-theme of the power of an agency that can cut off an individual's access to the `network', e.g. ATM, etc. It makes a compelling argument against the concept of all embracing ID cards and the underlying linking of databases. This is a really significant movie with a thoughtful and thought inducing ending.
However, the story and its message is one thing; the way the film was produced is another. It is a serious theme with social relevance. However, the producers obviously thought it would be better as an action comic book programme for the lowest common denominator. The acting is a good but bit wooden and extreme. So rather than being in the mode of "Smiley's People" or even "State of Play", it is more like "Batman" it seems to use contemporary production techniques where the audience is treated as idiots with a retention span of about 30 seconds. Whilst some films need to be made like that to pander to those that need rap music in every scene, it is inappropriate with this story. It is the BBC desperately trying to make significant programme accessible to everyone, which it never does because the more cerebral people are not content to watch trivial films or at least those that use these techniques to supposedly keep your attention. I doubt if those for whom these techniques are geared would sit through the five episodes of this programme anyway.
The programme seems to have been made for the soundtrack rather than the other way around. Even scene is dominated by excessive and inappropriate noises: wailing woman, bells, Jewish type music (in a scene in Afghanistan!), the ubiquitous drums to denote a chase (even when there was not one), violins, etc. etc. It is a bit like a school play with everyone making noises in the background for effect - banging tambourines, playing violins in the poignant bit, etc. In this case it is the sound technicians with their synthesisers and database of sounds. However, modern movie making and good acting need none of this unless, of course, the acting or story line is poor - neither was true here.
That particular aspect of this movie really stopped me enjoying it (or sometimes even following the story line). The BBC seemed to have used these techniques a lot recently, for instance in "The Grid" or `The Enemy Within", but they add nothing and, in my personal opinion, actually detract from the story. An example, the main character uses a retinal scanner (boom - a drum crash - why?), a character walks into a pub (another drum crash), a character runs up to a flat (drum music), a woman dies is bed (wailing woman, bells, and the kitchen sink!) in fact any time something happens there is (An apparently compulsory) noise of some type - why? The background noises (not really music) seem to be there because the producers appear to think loud noise is required in almost every scene. This really cheapens the programme - it treats the viewer as an idiot. Maybe it is the `Age of Noise' but it is killing classy film making - not every film needs to be made for 13 year olds.
Nevertheless, it was interesting, if annoying, to watch. But BBC please change your formula for this genre - you do them quite well except for the sound effects. The one benefit of all the jarring noise is that I could not watch more than one episode without a break, and when a rare scene did not have any background noise, the serene quiet made the programme easy and pleasurable to watch.
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on 28 March 2014
I missed almost all of this series when it was originally aired in 2008. Yet, of the little that I did see of it, I remembered the scene where Steven Ezard (Cumberbatch) is being interrogated by David Russell (Carlyle) in front of Russell's electric fence, and that the main character was a professor who had worked in China. With this scant amount of information, 5-years later, I was able to, Steven-Ezard-like, cyber-track down the title of the series via Google, and then purchase it on Amazon.

This is a very well produced drama which seeks to integrate the qualities of prior art such as Smiley's People and Reilly, Ace of Spies, with a more contemporary editing style, like that of its US counterparts. 24, for example. My impression, on a first viewing of the DVDs, suggested an overly elaborate story line that depended on the heavy use, if not heavy-handed use, of foreshadowing and allusion, to maintain the viewer's interest. Nevertheless, like Roman Polanski's Ghost (The Ghost Writer), the series contains an engaging amount of pathos and inner detail which more than mitigates the issue.

The acting was consistently excellent. Especially from, yet not limited to, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anamaria Marinca (irrespective of a line of tricksy dialogue) and Max Beesley. The rich tone of the images seems to have benefited from being shot on film.

After becoming acquainted with the intricacies of the story for this series, the DVDs give one the opportunity to gain a much better impression of its strengths. Strengths that have enabled The Last Enemy to be included in the lists of Masterpiece Contemporary.
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on 11 March 2011
If you like your slow burn, twisty conspiracy tales, this is for you. It's a slow start but progresses well and although on reflection by the end of the series the whole thing seems very far fetched it's played out in a way so as to ease you gently into the enormity of the overall plot so you can accept the escalating skullduggery as it comes.

In short, no spoilers, it is set in a not too distant future where the UK is upping internal monitoring of it's citizens following serious terror attacks. ID cards, goverment databases, questionable new acts of parliament, you get the idea. Cue the untimely homecoming of Steven Ezard (Cummerbatch) from a long standing research position in China to bury his brother only to become entangled in all kinds of strange and sinister affairs revolving around the widow in law and an invite from an ex girlfriend to take on some spin doctoring for the next step in ID monitoring. Throw in some afghan refugees, security service spooks, possible killer virus, you get the idea.

I loved it, Robert Carlyle in particular is excellent. The only minor issue I found was that it was hard to get behind any of the characters 100% as none of them are very likable!
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on 17 April 2012
Only heard about this by researching Benedict Cumberbatch but it should be compulsory viewing for the whole electorate. The message is clear: say "no" to ID cards, and the state's plans to monitor every one of our e-mails and phone calls. Don't believe the government's assurances that our hard-won freedoms are safe with them - 1984 was here in 1974. nearly fourty years on it's time to wake up.
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on 19 August 2009
This was a brilliantly gripping TV mini-series, which really gave a thrilling insight as to how the government could be hoodwinking anyone in the western world.... we had awaited the DVD for a while, glad it was finally released, so it's pleasing to see the series through again without the suspense of waiting for the next episode.
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