Last night, I finished the BBC miniseries of John le Carré's The Night Manager. It is everything you'd like to see in a modern spy thriller, just to the realistic side of James Bond: exotic scenery, good-looking people, a genuine villain pitted against plucky, honest heroes, plus some insider treachery and -- lo! -- a genuinely satisfying ending.
The main hero is Tom Hiddelston's night manager himself, who becomes an operative very much in the style of Keith Laumer's Jame Retief more than 007, though there is nothing of parody about him and quite a lot of quiet British competence. While there are plenty of moments for anyone with much of an inkling about modern intelligence work to mutter, "No, that's not how it works," it's a cracking good story and will carry you along with just a little suspension of disbelief. Hugh Laurie is chillingly effective as wicked arms dealer Richard Roper, who the script makes clear isn't just pushing guns and shoulder-fired rockets but poison gas and worse.
My favorite little bit of nuanced business is a quick scene between a pair of UK and U.S.intelligence types, desk-jockeys pushed by expedience into field wok. The Brit is about to go do something dangerous and her CIA counterpart makes to hand her his Beretta, to which she replies, "Don't be silly, I'm British; I'll call you if I get into any trouble." Like Chekov's gun, this one does have a role to play a little later.
Six episodes is about right for a novel; the story gets told with a consistent, worrying tension, punctuated by exciting action. It's worth watching.
1 month ago