Top positive review
A first rate, brilliantly done, deeply chilling mini-series
on 17 January 2015
This is an excellent 7 hour BBC mini-series about police corruption, drug trafficking and human frailty. Pitch dark, and no important character is without fault or sins.
The performances are terrific. Chiwetel Ejiofor does very solid work as a detective returning to the job after having a bullet lodged in his brain when his partner is killed in a shooting. His memory has been damaged, so he can't remember that night, or if he and his partner were doing cop work, or were playing ball with the other side. It's a complex character, a man tortured by literally not knowing himself, not knowing his own secrets. Christopher Eccleston also does great work with an unusual and complicated role. If Ejiofor is a good guy, who may have been a bad one, then Eccelston is a bad guy with the soul of a good one. He just wants to get out with one last big score to help his sick wife, without hurting anyone. Stephen Rea is a lot of fun, if a bit one note as an ice cold super-baddie, and Rafe Spall creates a terrific, very different kind of scary bad guy -- one who is so odd, almost goofy, and quirky that it's hard to know when he's kidding, or when he'll suddenly go off in a big way. All the smaller roles are filled with top notch actors, making this a thriller that relies far more on complex behavior than shoot-outs for narrative drive and tension.
There are a few frustrating plot cheats along the way, but less than most stories in this genre (the fact that it's generally so damn good, makes the few wonky moments stand out more.). Director-writer-producer Hugo Blick has a great eye for color and noirish framing, and a feel for messy morality that serves him very well here -- and even better in his more recent mini- series "The Honorable Woman." If you liked that, there's a good chance you'll like this, and vice-versa.