Based on the novel of the same name by renowned spy fiction novelist John le Carré (pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell), The Night Manager is a six-episode TV miniseries about a former British soldier turned hotel night manager named Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) who is recruited by intelligence officer Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) to infiltrate the organization of notorious arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie), that he may be brought down once and for all.
I haven’t read a novel written by le Carré yet. In my espionage thriller readings, I had gone the route of Ian Fleming (007 novels) and Tom Clancy (Jack Ryan novels). But I’ve come to the understanding that le Carré’s spy novels are less romanticized, more realistic – at least, compared to 007. In addition, I’ve seen almost all of the movies based on his books. And they are great. Though they don’t have much action, they nonetheless have enthralling storytelling, build tension well, and are intellectually satisfying. The Night Manager is the same.
I’ve never encountered this kind of intelligent, riveting spy thriller since re-reading a Tom Clancy novel more than a year ago. And as far as watching one on screen, it was the 2011 movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (incidentally another adaptation of a John le Carré novel). It has been a while, so I found The Night Manager very refreshing.
Obviously, much of the draw of The Night Manager – which what personally made me check it out in the first place – is hinged on its charming stars, Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, who both have the experience of playing an iconic, charismatic, beloved role to thank for their “fan-favorite” status – Hiddleston with Loki, arguably the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Laurie with Dr. Gregory House, the titular character of the awesome TV drama series House, M.D. As expected, the two gave terrific, magnetic performances all throughout. Their supporting cast was pretty great, too.
Aside from the acting, I also have to applaud its direction and writing, which work in combination in effectively telling a very gripping story. The narrative is engrossing, smart, and perfectly-paced from start to finish. I was really glued on it, that I literally watched it – around six hours long – in one sitting. I also liked how modern events were integrated into the story, giving it a clever, original spin. Considering that the original source material was written in 1993, the creative adjustment impressed me. The only problem I had with the story – SPOILERS – is that I wish that the corruption in River House is punished.
The Night Manager is easily one of the most must-watch TV shows of 2016 so far – and it’s very likely it’ll make my “best” list at year-end. In summary, it’s an immersive, nigh-perfect espionage drama that is as captivating as its two leads.