Top critical review
A horrible rendition of an excellent book
on 22 April 2017
Where to begin? The quality of the DVD is very poor, and seems to have been done on a Friday afternoon by someone who was mentally already in the pub. Visual quality and audio quality are poor. Secondly, it's very long, given the small number of important things which happen overall. Some episodes pass without ANY important things happening. Thirdly, there is a juddering disconnect between Magnus Pym versions one and two, and Magnus Pym version three. The first two are handsome blondes, and the third is a very ordinary looking brunette. Couldn't they have cast somebody who actually looked like the younger versions? Peter Egan, who plays Magnus Pym version three, is terrible. He seems to have three expressions: disinterested, grumpy and completely aghast. That's it. There is no nuance to his acting, which is set in stark relief the excellent acting of Rudiger Weigang, who plays the only interesting character in the whole piece, Axel/Poppy. It is hard not to revel in the mercurial and mesmerizing Weigangs performance, as there is nothing else going on. The portrayal of the main character, Magnus, is extremely choppy. We see him many scenes which don't seem to give us any insight at all into why he ended up as the supposedly perfect spy. We also have a huge hiatus during the middle twenty years of his career, which we are just expected to swallow without protest. That brings us to one of the most frequent annoyances of the directing- how the passage of time is dealt with. Over and over again, there are jarring sequences in disparate places with disparate people with years in between them! And no gentling of that passage by the director. The usual techniques for showing the passage of time are entirely absent. The relationship between Magnus and his father, a squalid war-profiteer and fraudster, is constantly portrayed, and yet there seems to be no increase in our insight into either character. Apart from a certain amount of embarrassment and shame associated with his fathers lifestyle, the nature of his father seems to inhibit his career in no way whatsoever. Neither does the terrible desertion of his mother by his father and her imprisonment in a mental asylum. In fact, by the end of the mini-series, you could be forgiven for asking, so what have we learned? And the answer is, nothing. Nothing in the background of Magnus Pym explains why he would devastate the security of Britain in such a profound way. We never get an answer to the most important question: why would this man betray his country, and other men not?