TV review: The Night Manager, BBC One
Tom Hiddleston shines in this classy John le Carré adaptation
Novelist John le Carré is a master when it comes to darkly intelligent thrillers. And the BBC's The Night Manager easily sits alongside classic adaptations such as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener and A Most Wanted Man.
Modernised and updated from the 1993 book. Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is the night manager at an exclusive opulent hotel in Cairo during the Arab Spring of 2011. He stumbles across some troubling information, the plot organically drawing him deeper and deeper into an even greater conspiracy.
All six episodes are directed by Susanne Bier (who's In A Better World won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011) and The Night Manager looks and feels like a big budget Hollywood feature, the rich yellows and burnt oranges of Egypt a stark contrast to the drab greys of London and later the blinding white snow of Switzerland.
The first episode focuses on Hiddleston but the rest of the cast is similarly exceptional. Even though he doesn't make his grand entrance until 40 minutes in, Hugh Laurie casts a long shadow over proceedings as Richard Roper, the villain of the piece. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing, an arms dealer disguised as a convivial businessman, while Olivia Colman and Tom Hollander's roles are bound to expand as the series progresses.
The Night Manager never treats the viewer like an idiot, taking its time and letting the story unfold, Hiddleston guiding you through the twists and turns. It’s a captivating performance; his serene unflappable exterior camouflages his hidden desire for justice, carefully building tension and effectively depicting the undercurrent of fear and dread that accompanies international espionage.
The Night Manager matches its luxurious setting for a sumptuous, perfectly paced, thriller packed with outstanding performances.
The Night Mangers premieres on BBC One, Sun 21 Feb, 9pm.