Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), is working as the night manager of a Cairo hotel, at the height of the Arab Spring. The girlfriend of a local gangster gives him some documents linking billionaire Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) with illegal arms sales. Pine forwards them to an old army buddy who is working at the British embassy. She is soon found dead. Fearing for his life, Pine flees. The story resumes after four years have passed, when Roper visits the Swiss hotel where Pine has landed. Taking a chance, Pine contacts Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) of British Intelligence. He has saved her number since Cairo. What follows are five more episodes full of intrigue and danger, in this retelling of the 1993 John le Carré spy novel, The Night Manager.
I remember reading The Night Manager when it first came out. It was the first post-Cold War novel that le Carré had written. I also remember not being terribly impressed by it at the time. I remember thinking that he ought to look for a new line of work. I hadn’t thought of it since, until last Sunday night, where it snagged three Golden Globe awards. Hiddleston, Laurie and Colman all won acting awards. I remembered that the show is available on Amazon and I started binging on it the next day. The series debuted on the BBC and AMC first picked it up for those of us across the pond. There are differences between the novel and the series. Most notably the novel was set then and the series is set now. Also, the novel was set in Central America and the series jaunts around the Mediterranean. The biggest difference though is that the series feels less like a le Carré story and more like one written by Ian Fleming.
Before this series debuted London bookies were giving Hiddleston a 1-in-5 chance to be the next James Bond. Not the best of odds, but still better odds than anyone else in this competition’s rather wide field. Now the bookies are no longer accepting bets on Hiddleston. One wag even quipped that The Night Manager was just one long screen test for the role of Bond. The shadow of Britain’s most famous secret agent looms large over this creation of director Susanne Bier from the opening credits, where an RPG transforms itself into a martini glass, a tea service into the chambers of a revolver and flares launched from an AC-130 gunship into a necklace of pearls. It is this Bond-ification of the story that makes this new series so much more appealing than the novel was. The series has it all, sunlit Mediterranean villas, a tall statuesque woman and a villain who is the “most evil man alive”. I can hardly wait for the sequel. 😉