TV review: The Last Panthers
Samantha Morton and John Hurt star in classy new cross-continental heist thriller
Opening with a brand new track by David Bowie, written specifically for the title sequence, is an impressive start. It's dark, menacing and ethereal, perfectly setting the tone for Sky Atlantic's languid and engaging heist thriller The Last Panthers.
The action begins in Marseilles with a slick diamond robbery. Unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, things don't quite go according to plan and after the exhilarating opening bank raid The Last Panthers switches focus. The theft itself is just the catalyst that draws our characters together. The story splits into three: the police investigation, the insurance team tracking the jewels for their clients and the criminals on the run with €50 million of hot diamonds. And rather cleverly you'll find yourself siding with all three factions even though they are pulling in different directions.
It's an ambitious cross-continental project which Sky plan to launch simultaneously across the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria. Populated with an impressive cast of European actors: Samantha Morton heads the insurance team, Tahar Rahim is in charge of the police investigation and Goran Bogdan is the provisional leader of the bank robbers who soon learns there's no honour among thieves. The plot also drags our characters across borders through France, Hungry and Serbia stirring up the past as Morton's Naomi flashes back to the time she spent in the Balkans as part of the UN peacekeeping force.
Directed by Swede Johan Renck (who has helmed various episodes of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Vikings), The Last Panthers goes for a Nordic noir feel in terms of pace, taking the time to give each character depth and personality. It's also echoes Scandi crime's love of gloomy greys and overcast skies. Morton, Rahim and Bogdan are all fantastic. Their characters are flawed but determined, driven by their own personal demons. John Hurt hardly gets any screen time in this first episode but his part will inevitably increase, as only a fool would waste an actor of his calibre in such a minor role.
Even by the end of one episode you'll find yourself riveted by this classy new thriller as it snares you in its web of deceit, double crosses and violence.
The Last Panthers premieres on Sky Atlantic, Thu 12 Nov, 9pm.