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The Night Manager

Hiddleston Laurie le Carré BBC AMC

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#1 Dustin

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 05:23 PM

So right now I'm three episodes into this series and all I can say is splendid. Hard to believe this was made-for-TV; from the looks, the cast and the production standards it feels like it would easily wipe the floor with numerous big screen productions, some Bonds amongst them.

Emphasis is on the characters here, as befits the story. Or rather the story's spirit; because this series does not follow slavishly the route of the book, does take some liberties. But - as far as I can judge at the moment - it stays perfectly faithful to the mindset of the protagonists down to a t. What an awesome treat.

#2 marktmurphy

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 10:13 PM

Surely here of all places we'll have people who notice that this is basically just a really long retelling of Licence To Kill?

 

And that Hiddleston is doing a terribly affected impersonation of the 'panther' walk of Connery and Craig? :D



#3 Dustin

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 10:26 PM

Well, if we forget the fact that for example just the arrival scene at the Meister Hotel in terms of suspense and emotional impact - cleverly intercut images of bathing blonde and beaten up corpse - beats the living daylights out of much of Eon's œuvre and particularly anything in LTK...

#4 marktmurphy

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:07 PM

I've think you've mixed up 'fact' and 'opinion' there...

 

I did enjoy it, it was very good, but it wasn't amazing and should have been a bit smarter. Man with slightly iffy motivation decides to get almost killed to stop bad man, arrives ones day, gets handily put in charge of the very evil operation he's investigating the next, pops into baddie's office and finds the whole thing handily written down on one sheet of paper. Not as involving as it should have been.

 

And yeah: Licence To Kill. I was expecting a bit more from Le Carre than a Bond film, to be honest.



#5 Dustin

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 09:12 PM

I've think you've mixed up 'fact' and 'opinion' there...

You bet I did... :D

I did enjoy it, it was very good, but it wasn't amazing and should have been a bit smarter. Man with slightly iffy motivation decides to get almost killed to stop bad man, arrives ones day, gets handily put in charge of the very evil operation he's investigating the next, pops into baddie's office and finds the whole thing handily written down on one sheet of paper. Not as involving as it should have been.

And yeah: Licence To Kill. I was expecting a bit more from Le Carre than a Bond film, to be honest.

I'm still not through yet, think I'll finish it tomorrow. Personally I found Pine's motivation strong enough in the book and up to now in the film. Le Carré's heroes often tend to be romantics at heart, see The Honourable Schoolboy Westerby.

Pine is a soldier's son who failed to live up to the example of his father. He's primarily driven by duty, a servant looking for a cause to serve. When he falls in love with Sophie she becomes his country to serve, the flag he flies underneath his composure and his night manager uniform. I'd say as motivation this is transparent and convincing enough, natural for this kind of character.

The novel depicts Pine as somewhat more cerebral, also in his outlaw persona. They sexed it up, but not beyond recognition. Also - if memory serves - Pine's/Linden's business at the coast was not a full-blown drug pushing op. As I remember it after preventing the kidnapping Pine only gradually was involved by Roper into the role of a cutout and possible fall guy, not trusted with the whole scale and nature of Roper's business.

Meanwhile Pine of course fell for Jed and now had Sophie to avenge and Jed to protect. At which point of course the wheels come off fast and viciously, though through no fault of Pine's own.

The book is the closest le Carré came to a Bond novel, but approaching from a different angle and with different results. Roper is a monster, but an everyday monster, the kind you can see at any given day on the telly explaining why it's to the best of all that his business should thrive. Often that monster is dining with your MP. And sometimes that monster is your MP and you may even have voted for him or her.

But Roper builds no Garden of Death, doesn't steal atomic warheads. He needs not to steal them, he's buddies with the manufacturer - or he is the manufacturer. As villains go Roper is quite ordinary - and not even totally vile at it. The vile guys sit at the top deck of River House. And it's these guys who nearly get Pine killed.

There is plenty of beef in The Night Manager, only not all of it is easily captured in imagery. Yes, there is an obvious relation between LTK and The Night Manager. But I would argue the Bond version is at best a distorted flat caricature while The Night Manager is The Real Thing ™.

Opinion, of course. And that's a fact... ;)

#6 marktmurphy

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 10:12 PM

It's not the real thing, no; it's a very simplified and conveniently plotted thing, and I genuinely don't see anything more convincing in it than in Licence To Kill, quite honestly (I'm talking solely about the TV version here- what you say about his motivation seems very much coloured by your knowledge of the book rather than what was onscreen). Sanchez didn't steal atomic weapons either- but he also didn't have a handy air force to stage a (very fun) but slightly implausible massive weapons display. And how was the truck procession trick in the finale worked out? Why would those guys agree to that? (Yes, there are even two versions of the tanker truck bit from LTK! :) ) It doesn't really bear close examination.

 

It was good fun but don't mistake it for anything else but a BBC Bond film. Look at the title sequence! :D



#7 JLaidlaw

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 11:56 PM

I'd say both of you have a point. The Night Manager was excellent television, though once past the superlative opening episodes, the final episode being merely 'very good' comes as a disappointment.

There's much to recommend The Night Manager to the James Bond fan. It's definitely Le Carre playing in Fleming's world, and I did get the feeling of watching an early Fleming book, rather than an Eon film. There are shades of (book version) Hugo Drax in Richard Roper, who is accompanied by a Domino like mistress in Jed. Hiddlestone's Pine has moments where he resembles the Bond of the books; quiet and reflective, switching between being irritated by how a woman's actions damage his mission and then getting close to abandoning his mission to protect her (Bond's sentimentality is a much ignored quality). To cap it all off you have a series of stunning locales across Europe and the Middle East, including an obligatory villain's island lair. I don't understand why you'd use 'BBC Bond film' as a pejorative. You make it sound like a cheap knock off, like Sky's Fleming, when we all know the BBC are better than that. The whole piece looks amazing, is outstandingly acted and was filmed by a director who clearly understands the art of suspense.

Yes there are flaws; it probably helps to watch with a break between each episode so the at first engrossing 'River House' scenes don't become too tedious by episode 6, and perhaps by the end you'll forget how inaccurate Burr's big speech about the darkness that awaits Pine becomes- the body count for the series is probably less than a standard episode of Doctor Who. Any victories achieved feel a little easy.

But the three leads are so outstanding that you never feel like you've been cheated. Olivia Coleman continues to be the best actress on British television, and Hugh Laurie's Richard Roper was so charismatic, part of me would be happy to see him win. He knocks spots off all but the best Bond villains. There's even another potential future lead villain in the ensemble, in Tom Hollander.

Put simply, if you're a Bond fan, and you wouldn't mind watching a 007 adventure without the set piece action scenes, go seek this out on BBC Store or AMC. My personal opinion was that it exceeded Spectre on almost all like for like comparisons, and I enjoyed it more. I'm sure most of you would disagree with that, but I'd be surprised if many came away disliking the series.

#8 New Digs

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 07:28 PM

I thought the Night Manager was terrific and very well done. Excellent example of how to update a 20 year old novel. Add me to the list of people who felt this heavily resembled the LTK script. Corkey being the Krest Character, Jed being the Lupe character, Pine going inside the organisation etc. I think there was even a reference to the plot of the living daylights, in respect of using downpayment from one deal to finance another. 



#9 marktmurphy

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 08:29 PM

I don't understand why you'd use 'BBC Bond film' as a pejorative. You make it sound like a cheap knock off, like Sky's Fleming, when we all know the BBC are better than that. 

 

No that's not how I meant it: I meant that this was nothing particularly deeper or more truthful than your average Bond film. It wasn't even really much more complex, despite being three times the length. Condense it to a film the length of, say, Licence To Kill, and what have you lost?

 

It was glossy entertaining fun and I do hope it's a massive hit for the BBC, but ultimately it was not as involving or tense as it should have been. For really great drama watch something like Happy Valley or what Line of Duty promises to be.



#10 Jim

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 06:51 AM

Yes, not particularly complex but very lavish and very enjoyable. As you say, a BBC Bond film - none the worse for that. Top marks.



#11 Harmsway

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 11:54 AM

A "BBC Bond film"? Yeah, that's exactly what this is. I dig it, though.

#12 Dustin

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Posted 13 May 2016 - 12:28 PM

I only recently finished this - yes, these days I am this slow with watching TV - I stand by my original opinion. Though I have to say some changes were made, not all of them favourable.

The book's Pine is mainly driven not by revenge but by guilt (he was responsible for Sophie's death), something the TV version willingly undermines by going the revenge route with Freddy Hamid. So the beating up at the hands of the would-be kidnappers (SAS heavies in the book) is indeed the logical punishment in book-Pine's conviction, the entrance fee he has to pay in order to stop Roper. This background was somewhat simplified for the purposes of the TV script. However, I still think it was convincing enough on screen.

Somewhere I read about the unlikelihood of Roper having a private army and airforce for theatre purposes at hand. Indeed I found this the weakest part of the play, also because Pine here takes over a much more prominent role than a cutout figure and fall guy would have. I can only guess it was written in this way to make us swallow the cold blooded killing of Hamid later, something the book's Pine might wish for but not actively pursue in the way it was shown. Here somebody thought of Bond while writing this part. Still, fitting in many ways and a great idea to let the tale end where it all started.

Another criticism I read was Roper's stupidity in trusting Pine, not seeing how he was the main threat to his empire. Frankly, this is a complete misreading of Roper's character (who was turned into a much more colourful and interesting figure than le Carré's version, kudos to the writers!). Of course Roper here knows from the start Pine is a rotten apple. Only he thinks he's his kind of rotten apple. He suspects the kidnapping was a setup from the go and never fully trusts Pine. After Corky's death he even makes a speech, come home clean, all is forgiven if you do. This Roper is not at all stupid.

By this stage of course the book has been largely left behind, most events play out a bit differently, the entire third act is an original work using the book only as a rough guideline. If you haven't done so already I strongly urge you to pick up the book and see how things played out in le Carré's world.

But in terms of complexity I'd argue this TV version offers much more than the usual stuff. The protagonists all have different aims, to reach their goals they all have to risk hurting somebody who's dear to them. None of them is likely to succeed. In fact with this kind of setup the happy ending feels strange and unconvincing to the tale. You will not be surprised to find the book goes a different route.

#13 Matt_13

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Posted 30 May 2016 - 09:57 PM

I was excited for this every week it was on. Excellent production values, acting, music, and atmosphere. That being said, that finale weakened the entire offering for me. It was too neat. Everything worked out more or less for the good guys, which is fine I suppose, things don't need to be dour nor is it necessary for there to be a big twist at the end of something like this. Still...things sure felt like they were developing in a more intelligent way than what we we wound up getting. Very good light entertainment, but sadly in the end there wasn't a whole lot to chew on.

#14 Navy007Fan

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:56 PM

Question re: the final episode.  I just re-watched it, and I still cannot figure out where Pine sent the 300 million.  I looked at the screen of his phone when he had the banking app open, and it did not show where the money went.  Did he open an account for Jed?  Did it disappear in the ether?



#15 Dustin

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 01:23 PM

No idea, don't think it was actually shown. The finale left a lot to desire since it didn't live up to the rest of the tale. I don't think it was important where the money went - as long as Roper couldn't get his hands on it.

#16 Matt_13

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 11:43 PM

Just gave this a rewatch now that it's available on Blu Ray. I liked the ending a lot more this time. Now that I know not to expect a big twist it feels more complete and logical than it had upon my first viewing. As Bond fans we're lucky to have something like this to turn to in down times like these. Elegant, tense, beautiful, and well acted entertainment.

#17 glidrose

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 11:33 PM

Finally got around to watching this and all I can say is WOW!

 

Not perfect, but mostly excellent. I agree tho' that Pine's motivation is a bit too neat and convenient. And yes, the whole series did remind me of LTK. The River House intrigue goes on a bit in episodes 4 and 5. Almost entirely outstanding performances, in particular Laurie, Hollander and Debicki. I wasn't as taken with Olivia Colman as some of you. Too matronly and at times maudlin, though some of her dialogue doesn't help.

 

And yep, this felt like a movie, not at all like tv. I'm really let down that Bier won't be directing B25. She's exactly what the film series needs.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Hiddleston, Laurie, le Carré, BBC, AMC

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