21st Century Spy
There’s probably not a review to be found (in the UK anyway) that’s not going to compare this to Spooks in some way, and its understandable seen as it from the same production company and has slotted in to the schedule in the same spot. Add to that X-Files Executive producer Frank Spotnitz as the script writer, not only does it marry two of my favourite shows but as an audience we’re expecting a slick spy show with plenty of action and plot twists. One thing you can be sure it shares with Spooks is its penchant for implausibility merged with X-Files, “Trust No One” concept (minus the aliens though).
Australian actress Melissa George takes on the role of Sam, an ask no questions elite private intelligence officer for Byzantium who survives and attempt on her life while based on an op in Tangier, which she believes was orchestrated by someone on her own team – and quite possibly her boyfriend Aidan played by Adam Rayner. After a year of intense Rocky style training in Scotland she returns to the fold to seek out her assassin, while her employers watch her with trepidation wondering what she’s been up to for the past year.
The story hinges solely on Melissa George’s portrayal; she does the accent well, nifty on the hand to hand combat, however her character is a cliché in itself with the tortured childhood and flashbacks which could become tiresome. It’s very Nikitta/Dark Angel/Alias. The opening sequence shows a frenzied clinch between our stars which seems forced and for a couple who are supposed to be in love they appear very cold.
The drama has gone for a very artistic view of sweeping shots of monuments and it’s almost silent in some parts. However it does add a certain slick edge and cinematic feel to it. It would appear the producers have attempted to emulate The Killing’s and The Spiral’s slow quiet storytelling but with a spy and thriller element which unlike the Danish counterparts hasn’t succeeded in quite the same way. (Also not too surprising considering the production company is doing a Brit version of Borgen with David Tennant in the lead).
There’s definitely potential if we can get to know and discover more of the characters personalities. Aiden being the traitor is probably too obvious but then with Spotnitz’ writing there’s bound to be more twists and double-crossing’s to come. It was also a nice change to see a spy genre actually show the long game of going undercover as Sam Infiltrates the house of millionaire criminal Jack Turner posing as his grandson’s Nanny.
By focusing on the private sector of spies it opens up new avenues that are closed with MI5/6 due to public perception and the general laws of the land that private contractors slip below the radar on. So a lot more scope to work with as their clients could be good or bad.
Overall its a good start but needs improvement if its to engage for eight episodes (and a second rumoured series). Characters need to be fleshed out more and less flashbacks. The series encompasses a more American feel in an international setting with a kick ass female character, but lacks heart, however having seen the second episode it does engage and pick up pace considerably.
Eyes peeled: Although very different to Spooks keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot lots of Spooks locations and similar plot lines. (Episode 2 is full of them).