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Customer Review

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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