For years, I’d see a review in the newspaper or a find a book-seller prominently displaying something hot off the press, and said to myself, ah, a new book from John LeCarré. I pronounced his name like this – Lee Car. Only recently, in the promos on TV for The Night Manager, the new mini-series on AMC, did I hear this name pronounced as Leh Car Ray. So I learned something.
As this mini-series, The Night Manager, concluded last night (just six 90 minute long episodes – actually 60 minutes of content and 30 minutes of commercials) I came to the conclusion that I had watched a very fine series.
We open with a quick glimpse of Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) a super successful businessman with side ventures into philanthropy (refugee aid). As he states to a breathless audience at a seminar – What good is my success if I don’t share it [with those who need it].
We then cut to Cairo, Egypt. The streets are filled with protesters. The date is January 11th , 2011. The Egyptian Revolution would begin in two weeks on January 25th. Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is the Night Manager at the swanky Nefertiti Hotel. This is a bit of stage management as the actual Nefertiti Hotel is in Luxor, in the shadows of the pyramids, a bit south of Cairo, just a quick six hours and change drive actually. And where they filmed the scenes in this hotel were really shot a resort in Marrakesh, Morocco. But that’s okay, it is actually a fairly routine happenstance in television production.
One look at Hiddleston’s Pine, and you’ll be saying something along the lines of – How could this guy NOT be in the movies. Yes, he’s that good-looking. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a successor to Daniel Craig as James Bond – at some point down the road, after he adds some more muscle. He doesn’t convey toughness, or have a brawny masculinity. Rather it is his stillness and composure that conceals the steeliness inside him.
Anyway, the mistress of Freddie Hamid, a Cairo playboy, who is a rich guy who dabbles in the arms market, takes a liking to Pine, and gives him a shipping manifest. We’ve no idea why – but what ever the reason, she deemed it necessary to have a copy of this document in someone’s hands. Pine forwards this to a pal at MI-6, still housed in River House in London. Don’t believe those stories that it was blown to smithereens in a Bond film.
It comes to the attention of one Angela Burr (played by Olivia Colman who was terrific in two seasons of Broadchurch). She’s the leader of a very secret wing within MI-6. And, you guessed it – she’s been trying to get the goods on Richard Roper for the better part of a decade. Of course without success.
Roper, when he’s not spending lavish amounts of money living the high life, is a major player in the arms trade. Burr is kind of a rogue. She needs Pine inside Roper’s gang, but she can’t tell the higher-ups in MI-6 because – well… this is LeCarré, so no one can be trusted.
When Hamid’s mistress turns up murdered in the Nefertiti, Pine decides to make a new life for himself. Some years pass and we find Pine. This time at an elegant Swiss Hotel in Zermatt. Pine works as the Night Manager at this hotel too, and lives a quiet life in a cottage with views of the Matterhorn.
You do know what comes next don’t you. Right. Roper and his entourage arrive by helicopter at the very hotel where Pine is working. Roper’s entourage includes his girl friend Jed Marshall (Elizabeth Debicki),