HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Night Manager (Uncensored)
HTS Overall Score:79
John Le Carre’s famous spy novels haven’t been a thing that really hit the top of the movie charts like Tom Clancy, or Lee Child, but thanks to the BBC and AMC collaborating, we get to see one of his best novels grace the silver screen as a miniseries. Something that would normally have slipped past my radar if the BBC hadn’t decided to co-produce with America’s own AMC to create one of the better thrillers that I’ve seen in recent history. Tom Hiddleston is not the name that springs to one’s mind when you think of a James Bond style of hero, but now he is actually in the running for the next bond after “The Night Manager” brought his skills right to the forefront of British television. Penned from the 1993 novel of the same name, the miniseries crafts a tightly written thriller that puts a regular Joe deep into the heart of enemy territory, where he is set on rooting out a megalomaniac who is responsible for the death of someone he cared about.
For Cairo Hotel night manager, Jonathon Pine (Tom Hiddelston), life is all about treating his guests with the utmost respect and giving them exemplary service. This all changes when a woman he becomes attached to is brutally murdered by a local Cairo playboy and her murder is just chalked up to regular burglary due to said playboy’s status. This particular woman had JUST given Pine some damning evidence of the playboy’s involvement in something much, MUCH bigger. An arms deal with the notorious Arms merchant Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie). A person of interest for just about every government agency on the planet. After Cairo, Pine moves on to Switzerland, where he resumes his duties as a night manager. Seeing Roper stop in to the hotel triggers a deluge of memories long since though buried, prompting the manager to call in to British intelligence agent Angela Burr (Olivia Colman).
Realizing that Pine could be a valuable asset, Agent Burr ropes the night manager into doing something that no one thought possible. Take down Richard Roper once and for all. Due to his status as a civilian no one would possibly suspect his ties, and going COMPLETELY dark on the matter made success even higher. Sending in Pine as a criminal enterpriser, she crafts a background that will allow Pine to slip into the ranks of Roper’s organization undetected. Once buried in deep, Jonathon is forced to become just what he has always hated. A cold and heartless man who does everything Roper does, and watches everything Roper manipulates in the hopes of bringing the notorious arms dealer down once and for all.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78338[/img]At first glance of the description I was under the impression that “The Night Manager” would be a very small scale film, set inside of a hotel or the like. However, the 6 part series is actually quite sweeping, bringing our characters across a variety of landscapes and multiple countries. We get to see the burnished sands of Cairo, then on to the luscious snow covered Swiss Alps, and back out to the beaches once more where Roper makes his home. Once into the organization, things aren’t as easy for Pine as he had hoped. Constant suspicion from Roper’s second in command, Corkie (Tom Hollander, most famous for his portrayal of the duplicitous East India Trading Co. agent in the second and thid “Pirates of the Caribbean” films), keeps him on his toes, and the inclusion of a woman (there’s always a woman) makes things even stickier. Especially when there becomes a growing comradery between himself and said woman, who just so happens to be Roper’s girlfriend, Jed (Elizabeth Debicki).
“The Night Manager’s” biggest boon to the spy genre is affirmation that one doesn’t need copious explosions or a dozen bodies strewn about after silenced pistol fire to make an intriguing drama. In fact there are VERY few moments of violence strewn throughout the 6 hour run time. We have some deaths, and some encounters that require a bit more than talking, but Le Carre and director Susan Bier do an exquisite job of creating tension through near misses and intelligence gathering. I was on pins and needles the whole time just watching our hero slip in and out of trouble by just using his wits and a copious amount of skill to navigate the tricky waters that make up the criminal underbelly. The show is a classic slow burn, much like “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, but with a decidedly smoother pacing and some wonderful performances by Hiddelston and Laurie. Performances that has me actually curious to see if Hiddelston can make the leap to the big spy leagues by becoming the next James Bond. A role I didn’t see him playing before, but now actually am curious to see if he’ll get cast.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78346[/img]Besides from a little bit of banding in the first few minutes of the first episode, “The Night Manager” comes to Blu-ray with a fairly spectacular 1.78:1 AVC encoded transfer. I can’t verify for CERTAIN, but my eyes are telling me that this is a 100% digitally shot image and the results are crystal clear details mixed with a stylistic shoot that keeps the image sharp and refreshing. Fine detailing is magnificent throughout the 6 hours of run time, showing off each individual nick and crook on Tom Hiddleston’s face, as well as wonderful landscape shots that show off some gorgeous scenery. Colors are natural and clean, but also seem to lounge in the gold and teal spectrum most of the time in terms of grading. Black levels remain deep and inky, showing off plenty of shadow detail except for a few moments of banding that come into play near the beginning (as mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=78354[/img]The singular 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is superb from beginning to end, capturing the quitter moments of the drama with simplicity and perfect clarity, but also having the dynamic range to surge into action during some pulse pounding moments where Jonathon gets into a little more trouble than he anticipated. LFE is tight and punchy, adding weight to the score throughout, as well as acting as supplement to the more action oriented bits. The score, though, is the main focus of the track, combined with the dialog, and the two make for a very intense and riveting sound track. Dialog is always clear and precise, locked up front with no sounds of distortion, and the score manages to flow organically throughout the thriller, adding a sense of intensity and focus to the track that keeps it moving at a brisk pace. Surrounds are used nicely, with solid ambient noise reproduction as well as filled with all sorts of little tidbits and noise that hovers just off in the background.
“The Night Manager” is an intense, but slow burn, thriller that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats without an enormous amount of action. It brings us back to the old spy craft days where elegance and subversion are the focus of the adventure instead of nonstop Bond style explosions and stunts. Sure there are several action pieces in the film that really stand out, but it’s the subterfuge and interactions between Pine and his targets that really make the BBC produced show so fascinating. Sadly the discs themselves contain zero special features, something that I REALLY would have liked to see, but the superb video and audio scores along with a compelling drama more than make up for the deficit of special features. Definitely worth checking out.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman
Directed by: Susan Bier
Written by: John Le Carre (story), David Farr (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 361 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Buy The Night Manager On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Give It A Watch
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