The Night Manager is a six episode mini-series directed by Susanne Bier and starring A-grade British personalities Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Coleman, Hugh Laurie & Elizebeth Debicki. Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is a night manager at a Cairo hotel during the Arab Spring of 2011. One night he receives a guest with peculiar political and military information, looking to expose the illegitimate and corrupt ties between Western governments, a dubious philanthropist named Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) and an arms dealer in the Middle East. Jonathan Pine now possesses this knowledge and links up Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman), a British intelligence officer, to infiltrate the inner circle Richard Roper, who they believe is the key to this cross-governmental conspiracy.
Starting off with the positives, Tom Hiddleston completely owned his character. His performance was like an informal audition for James Bond. Like Bond, Pine had a great taste in clothing and women. He was bold, charming and confident. But under this facade, Pine was skilled in combat and arms – he had a background in the military. The series could’ve utilized flashbacks to show how his experiences in the military encouraged him to undertake this mission – but they didn’t. In fact, there wasn’t a very strong justification for why Pine chose to infiltrate Roper’s inner circle. However, this didn’t detract from the fact that Pine was a very intriguing and memorable character. Fittingly, he was the focal point of the entire series.
The storyline of The Night Manager also struck a nice balance between being excessively convoluted and overly simplified. I was able to follow the plot from start to finish without raising any major red flags about its continuity or logic. It is, however, without question that this series took inspiration from films such as Infernal Affairs & Casino Royale. The location scouts used in the show also deserve a pat on the back. In the six episodes, we travel to London, Mallorca, Istanbul & Cairo. About a third of the show was filmed within the confines of an absolutely stunning villa in Mallorca.
On the negative side, there were certain things that didn’t make any sense. Elizebeth Debicki for one, unconvincingly plays an American. Her accent was very off. She should’ve just stuck to portraying a Brit. There were also scenes where Pine lurks around the above mentioned mansion to learn more about Roper’s trade. This wouldn’t have been an issue for Roper if he had just chosen to invest in security cameras. I mean seriously, many things shown on screen would not have been allowed happen if a better surveillance system was in place. Oh, and the ending of the show (without going into spoiler territory) also had issues – it was anti-climatic and underwhelming.
In short, The Night Manager is an average series. It had a strong lead in Tom Hiddleston, a digestible plot and some stunning filming locations but struggled in its ability to deliver a truly unique storyline with a memorable ending. It also didn’t help that this series was only 6 episodes long. Stretching the plot over another 6 episodes would’ve helped us to develop a stronger attachment towards some of the less memorable characters.