Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Elizabeth Debicki, Olivia Colman
Number of episodes: 6
The Night Manager is a British spy thriller series based on John le Carre’s novel of the same name. Beaming with an exceptional stellar cast, it’s impossible to give this series a miss. I was highly excited when I started my binge watching of this series, especially it coming under the radar of my favourite genre, but at the end I ended up with a mixed feeling.
Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) works as a night manager in a very posh hotel in Cairo where bombings and killings aren’t experienced with a shock. He comes across information regarding an arms dealing which he sincerely informs MI6, but the consequences results in the murder of his brand new girlfriend. Riding with guilt and raging for revenge, after several years, he meets the guy, Roper (Laurie), who was primarily responsible for his girlfriend’s death. With the help of the MI6 officer, Angela (Olivia), who is obsessed with bringing Roper down, he penetrates Roper’s gang and earns his trust. Will Pine succeed in taking his revenge? Will Roper find out about Pine’s real identity? Will Angela finally bring down this powerful man?
Firstly, the story unravels in a very complicated manner with very intricate details. Arms deal and subsequent meetings went above my head. The strategies and plans are plotted very seriously, but the plan itself is too easy. Roper sees through everyone but Pine? Come on! The world’s mightiest villain, someone who is feared by everyone, just fails when it comes to the hero- who has no experience whatsoever of being a spy? Boring! At one moment, Roper falls for something told against his long time confidant and he immediately takes him off his dealings just like that? Too predictable and utterly normal.
Hugh Laurie is great in playing Roper, the rich businessman with powerful underground dealings, not to forget the mighty sarcasm. Elizabeth plays Roper’s wife with terrific confidence. Olivia is very good as the desperate but strong (and pregnant) MI6 officer. But Tom Hiddleston? Don’t think I am going to say he was amazing or spectacular. I felt he was completely flat and boring playing Jonathan Pine. I felt he could have brought in more to make Pine at least a little interesting. Jonathan Pine is someone whom the viewers should sympathise for his loss initially and then should want him to succeed in the most powerful and clever ways, which doesn’t happen at all. With Pine itself faltering, I felt the show had no chance of calling itself a great thriller.
I wonder if all the hype created around a series, it getting nominated for big awards and our own high expectations influence our thoughts when we watch a show. When I think about The Night Manager, I feel there was everything, and yet there was nothing. I know I am not making any sense here. The story of this show is very interesting, it has a very well written plot, brilliant acting as well, yet I felt there was a complete lack of WOW moments- moments which make you sit straight or even force you to let out a whistle. I waited and waited for moments as such. There were instances where the scenes were built up for a great experience, which never came. Mind games were averagely played, and there was no action at all, or at least when it was actually needed. It was like wrestlers debating and not wrestling. The last episode did manage to garner some kind of thrilling moments, but it wasn’t enough. Lot of time was spent on Pine earning Roper’s trust and Angela’s fight with the political system. Out of the 6 episodes, 5 episodes were taken just for the build up, while the 6th episode just raced through. What could have been a great spy thriller, ended up just average. All the hoo-hoos and great ratings are just for the cast, I guess.
On the whole, The Night Manager isn’t a bad show. But it isn’t extraordinary. It has a great cast and few very good moments sprinkled over the 6 episodes. It’s not a must watch show, so you needn’t force yourself to watch it just because it is popularly talked about.