The Night Manager

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The Night Manager by John le Carre TV tie-in cover Hugh Laurie Tom Hiddleston Elizabeth Debicki“The Night Manager” is a brilliant take off on one of John Le Carré’s later books with a new twist. Le Carré, a former British agent himself, knows where the bodies are buried, and the bodies accumulate along the way.

Like George Smiley, the eminence pale of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” and “The Perfect Spy” (Le Carré’s classics), Jonathon Pine is a compendium of low key complexities. He can kill efficiently with a butter knife. He can crack heads together like hazel nuts and make Nutella of them without batting an eye. He has a sense of fair play that usually extends to his opponents – just – and an odd morality. He is in fact a full-blown credible personality sprung from Le Carré’s godlike imagination, like Athena from Zeus’s forehead. Tom Hiddleston, English Schoolboy extraordinaire (he can do sleazy charm as in Rattigan’s “Deep Blue Sea;” he can do “Enemy of the People” hanging upside down and dripping blood as in “Coriolanus”) and he can segue from being vicious and destructive to tender and protective.

The TV series is, as Le Carré himself reports, a different take on the original book, a nearly archeological dig into the usual espionage tropes, professional traitors, amateur heroes. The Baddie is Hugh Laurie, and not really so bad that we don’t watch as avidly as we once watched him as Bertie Wooster. There is this slightly daft charm, under the menace and entitlement. The villains are weapons buying avaricious citizens of nowhere, but generally located south of the Mesopotamia border. The special effects are expensive and explosive. Pine kills with a bit of self reproach but no looking back to “what ifs.” The peerless prize for the male antagonists is the woman, Jed, the gorgeous stork like Elizabeth Debicki.

Speaking of women, I very much like the fact that the spymaster Burr (another Smiley incarnation) is now Mrs. Burr, months into her pregnancy, played by Olivia Colman. She is believable and utterly cool-headed and resourceful. This is a thoroughly gripping experience, and if you have missed it, get the boxed set for a long wet weekend.

Kaaren Hale

 

 

 

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Posted: 05/06/16 by Howard Morgan

AMC’s new six-part adaptation of John Le Carre’s book is terrific television.

In “The Night Manager,” Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie and Angela Burr each play characters that are both tortured and well-fleshed out. The plot itself is a classic tangled spy and law enforcement mix, with Tom and Angela trying to get Hugh Laurie’s villainous arms dealer. But the settings and cinematography shine – Mallorca, Switzerland, Britain, and other places. The series is halfway done, but there’s time to get the first three episodes on demand and be ready for next week.

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