The Night Manager | WORLD
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The Night Manager

Tom Hiddleston AMC

<em>The Night Manager</em>
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The Night Manager is a very competent, movie-quality spy thriller done as a joint project by the BBC and AMC.

Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is a James Bond type working as the night manager of a series of high-price hotels. The only thing less improbable than this scenario is the morality of the show. Some things are bad and other things good: Arms dealers, amoral government functionaries, and unattractive womanizers are all bad. The British villain, Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), is very bad, and so Pine tells his government contact Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman) that as a British person he must act. When Pine says he has only done what “anyone would do,” Burr comments that most would not.

Given the world pictured, this seems true enough.

Why do we buy Pine?

For most of his 80 years, the man who writes under the pen name John Le Carré (David Cornwall) has entertained us with espionage stories. His new series Night Manager presumes on the sort of morality he inherited from Christian Britain and that his readers in the 1960s and 1970s still mostly shared. The hero engages in sexual immorality (with some brief nudity) as do the villains, but often the moral difference seems to be Hiddleston is attractive and the villain not so much.

But the plot is satisfying, the action thrilling without being dominated by car chases, and the sets elaborate. Hugh Laurie is a satisfying bad guy, playing the role as a seedy Wooster gone to arms dealing. The supporting cast lives up to the best of the BBC, very good indeed, and Hiddleston makes a strong case for being the next Bond.

The moral muddle at the center of the show is not fatal, but it makes what could have been a brilliant show if set in the 1960s a near miss. Pine is risking his life for Queen and country in a Britain where only Elizabeth seems worthy of the sacrifice.

John Mark Reynolds John Mark is a former WORLD contributor.


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