John Le Carré adaptations have been with us since the sixties, on and off, with most of us just not realising it. A Most Wanted Man (2014), The Constant Gardener (2005), and the wonderful Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy are all from Le Carré works. However, the name has become something of flavour of the month ever since the BBC’s The Night Manager, so I think this new cinema offering will do well off the back of that.
And, in many ways, it deserves to. There’s an excellent cast, from Ewan McGregor and Naomi Harris as the couple trying to overcome some relationship troubles, to Stellan Skarsgård playing ‘close enough’ Russian sort-of bad guy, and Damian Lewis as a posh British intelligence worker (amusingly, the usually posh Mark Gatiss goes all ‘northern’, which rather distracted me). All of the performances are very good.
The plot also has promise. Russian mob accountant, Dima, suspects the writing is on the wall for him and his family as he’s forced into signing financial control over to the old boss’s son. Approaching McGregor’s lone British holiday maker in a restaurant one night, he’s soon asking for a favour: take this information to ‘your MI6’, tell them there’s a deal to be made.
Of course, nothing goes quite to plan, with the stakes growing more and more desperate. Can the Russian save his family? Can the government man convince his bosses they should help? And just how far is the ‘everyman’ willing to go for strangers and spies?
Everything sounds like the perfect set up for a great thriller – and that’s where this movie fall down for me a little. It’s not all that, well – thrilling. It is extremely well made, looks gorgeous, ticks all the right boxes – apart from that one: I never felt surprise during the events. Which is kind of a flaw given the genre.
That said, I actually did enjoy this. There was no edge of seat feeling, but it was still very slickly done. A decent watch for any night of the week, although just as well on TV as the big screen, to be honest.
Released: 13th May 2016
Viewed: 13th May 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
My rating: 6/10 – it’s not showy and there are few surprises, but it’s done with style