The Night Manager
TV Series Review
It takes a thief to catch a thief—or so goes the saying. So what does it take to catch an incredibly wealthy businessman who also may be a global gun runner? A man who has stolen the lives of countless people and pilfered the peace of much of the world? British MI6 agent Angela Burr believes you might need the devil himself—or, at least, as close to the devil as you can get.
Not that Jonathan Pine—the guy Angela plucks for the job—is all bad. He's an Iraq War vet who'd done his share of good deeds and seen his share of horror. And when he was a night manager for a luxury hotel in Cairo, he and his squeeze, Sophie, already tried to bring down one Richard Roper—the devilish soul Sophie calls "the worst man in the world."
But Sophie wound up dead and Roper—with some high-level help from pals in Britain's secret service—was never charged. Half a decade later, Jonathan still hasn't recovered. So when Angela gives him a second chance to take down the guy, Jonathan agrees to go undercover, infiltrating Roper's Spain-based inner circle.
The costs could be huge. Not only will Mr. Pine's life be in constant peril, but the gig requires a great deal of, shall we say, moral flexibility. "There is half a psychopath lurking in there, Jonathan," Angela says, pointing to his head. "I want you to find him and stick to him. Once you get down to Devon, you are the world's second worst man—first place already taken."
The Night Manager, based on the book by John le Carré, originally aired on BBC One and then migrated across the pond to AMC. It's widely praised by critics, scoring a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. London's The Sun called it "one of the greatest series of all time." And, indeed, starring Tom Hiddleston (Loki from The Avengers) and Hugh Laurie (the titular American doctor on House), The Night Manager is well-acted, well-scripted and well-produced.
But, alas, the show is also well-stocked with troublesome content. It's rated TV-MA, and with reason. A sex scene pocks the very first episode, and when Hiddleston bares his posterior in the fourth episode, over in the U.K. the scene launched its own Twitter hashtag: #Hiddlesbum.
"I've come from the tradition of European film, where nudity isn't really something," Tom told The Hollywood Reporter. "I've seen many other more esteemed actors be infinitely more naked than me. I just don't think twice about it. It was important for the scene and no more or less significant than any of the other scenes in the story."
But that's not the (ahem) end of the problems. While The Night Manager probably can't be accused of grotesque excesses (in, say, the way American Horror Story or Game of Thrones can), Hiddleston's character is enmeshed in a terribly violent world, where blood waters the Spanish pavement with the frequency of afternoon rain showers and curse words flutter from the mouths of characters like snow in the Swiss Alps.
Chopping Up the Old Saw
Does it take a thief to catch a thief? I'm no expert in thief-catching, so I'll leave that to the detectives. But I do know this: It doesn't take a lot of bad content to tell a good story, no matter what you might see on TV.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine; Hugh Laurie as Richard Onslow Roper; Olivia Colman as Angela Burr; Elizabeth Debicki as Jed Marshall; Tom Hollander as Lance Corkoran; Michael Nardone as Frisky; Alistair Petrie as Sandy Langbourne; David Harewood as Joel Steadman