TV review: Hard Sun, BBC One
- Brian Donaldson
- 3 January 2018
A plodding narrative and implausible series of events nullify this new conspiracy thriller
Rare has the reality gap between a one-minute trailer and its attendant TV show been more stark than with Hard Sun. Over the course of 60 seconds, you'd be easily led to believe that the most exciting programme ever to be commissioned for a small-screen audience seems to be on the way, with wild explosions, moody actors and high-paced drama aplenty. Sit bamboozled through a couple of near 60-minute episodes and you'll be punching in the numbers of the Trade Descriptions folk.
Neil Cross has previous for wildness, moodiness and high pace with Luther, the never less than improbable vehicle for a post-Wire Idris Elba, but here he sets the bar yet higher. It's one thing to not over-complicate matters in a crime drama / conspiracy thriller, it's quite another to relentlessly spoon-feed the viewer as though they have the attention span of an average CBeebies watcher. In a nutshell, the world has about five years left before the apocalypse sets in and somebody somewhere is covering up that fact: cue Bowie's 'Five Years' featuring the line 'Earth was really dying'. Point overwhelmingly taken.
At the head of the investigating team are reluctant duo Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn) and Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess). Renko may be frail in stature but can karate-chop her way out of one near-fatal confrontation after another while Hicks is a no-nonsense Gene Hunt throwback who grunts and / or growls his lines which have all the gravitas of a Teletubbies script. Meanwhile, to call their onscreen chemistry as non-existent is being way too generous while plot-holes and implausibilities are both numerous and irritating. Among the jarring details are facial bruises failing to disappear after a nine-month period, a cop car being able to trail a motorbike for ages through the streets of London, and one character necking almost a full bottle of Scotch before being fully composed to undertake a tricky task. The pièce de résistance might arguably be the moment when our non-dynamic duo are trapped by a gang on a residential street. In order to attract the local populace's attention, Hicks smashes all the car windows he can find in order to set off their alarms, while barking very detailed yet surely inaudible instructions to the curtain-twitchers.
All of which might be tolerable if a captivating and twisting narrative is in place but even after a couple of its eight episodes, Hard Sun feels like an idea that could have been compressed into a much tighter timeframe.
Hard Sun starts on BBC One, Saturday 6 January, 9.35pm.