Strike Back took me by surprise! Having read the book and found it poorly written and quite laughable in places, I wasn't expecting much from this series. But... I love it! The writing is good (certainly a lot better than the book), the storylines compelling and tension is sustained throughout the whole six episodes.
I've already watched the series several times and find it really stands up to repeat viewings - even when I know what's about to happen, I still feel excited and involved. And I'm not the only one - my family and friends have enjoyed the series more than once; even my elderly neighbour watched the whole lot three times in the few days I lent her my DVDs.
The series is great to look at; the splendid South African scenery stands in well for Iraq, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, and the cinematography is excellent. The cast is impressive with some strong intelligent women in Orla Brady's Katie Dartmouth and particularly in Jodhi May's Layla Thompson. There is a lot of potential in the character of Layla - she is one of the reasons I'd love to see Strike Back go into a second series. I'm not so sure about Shelley Conn's character Danni - her `honey-pot' role was one of the more ridiculous aspects of the book and I wish they'd ditched it; her relationship with Porter would be more believable without it.
As for the men, Shaun Parkes' Masuku is solid and likeable, and Ewen Bremner's Baxter is an annoying loony who you come to feel quite fond of. Andrew Lincoln as Collinson is particularly impressive as an ambitious man with a terrible secret; the continuous struggle he has with his conscience is beautifully portrayed.
And finally to the hero. Well, John Porter is simply the best action hero I've seen. `Superman wears John Porter pyjamas' indeed! He's all the things a SAS hero should be - brave, strong, resourceful, clever; he's described as a `killing machine', `forged on a northern housing estate'. But it's his compassion, his vulnerability and, indeed, his flaws that make him truly great. And Richard Armitage is wonderful as Porter. He acts with a still intensity that conveys volumes - his is a haunted, conflicted, and very human portrayal.
Please, Sky, give us another series! Don't let John Porter just drive off into the desert - he's too good a character to lose!
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