The Night Manager (Blu-ray)

September 6, 2016 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Jake Keet

Plot: What’s it about?

The BBC recently aired (in conjunction with AMC in the states) the miniseries The Night Manager, based on the 1993 novel by John le Carre. Le Carre is a fantastic novelist, first coming to prominence with his blistering novel The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, which was later adapted into a fantastic film starring Richard Burton. It is arguably the single best piece of spy fiction to emerge from the Cold War, and is easily one of my favorite novels of all time. Le Carre wrote spy fiction very well because he was an actual spy. His books are amazing for their ability to tell incredibly complex narratives of how international affairs work – whether arms trading or espionage. The Night Manager was le Carre’s first work after the Cold War had ended. In order for it to still be relevant, the adapters of the novel chose to move it into our time, beginning the miniseries in the Arab Spring of 2011.

Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) works as the night manager at the Nefertiti hotel in Cairo, Egypt. Outside the hotel, revolution is occurring. Inside the hotel, Jonathan assists the beautiful Sophie Alekan. She entrusts him with some documents that need to be released if anything should happen to her. These documents show an arms deal that is orchestrated by Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) a very prominent and successful businessman. Knowing the carnage the arms deal will unleash, Jonathan takes the documents to the British embassy. This puts Sophie directly into danger and Jonathan tries to protect her. In doing so, they have a tryst. When he finds out that there will be no way to protect her in London, she feels betrayed. She returns to her hotel room and is murdered. Jonathan tries to put the past behind him and accepts a position as a night manager in a beautiful and remote resort in the Swiss Alps. To his surprise, Richard Roper arrives at the hotel with his cohorts, and Jonathan begins to form a plan to exact revenge on him.

The good news about the miniseries is that it looks absolutely stunning. It is pretty safe to say that the days of television films looking second rate is over. The series hops over the globe from London to Egypt to Spain to Switzerland. All of it is pretty breathtaking to look at. Also, the performances are pretty dang good, with Tom Hiddleston leading the pack. Hugh Laurie is good as the bad guy, even though personally I did not find him all that intimidating. The plot for the film is nicely constructed and everything that happens makes good sense. I was also happy that they did not pull any punches. This series is decidedly mature in its content with violence, language, and nudity used when appropriate and not excessively.

As for the bad news, there are three things that work against the series. The first is that the dialogue at times feels a bit unconvincing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just didn’t seem to roll off the tongue. The second is that the series takes its time to get where it is going. This is common for le Carre stories, but people with short attention spans will not find much here to enjoy. The third thing that works against the series is that in adapting the story they have taken out some of le Carre’s trademark cynicism. This is one of the qualities that all of his works contain, and this series has compromised some of that to its own shortcoming.

Video: How’s it look?

Viewers looking for a James Bond-esque picture will be right at home here. The European locale is a nice change of pace for a television miniseries and the Blu-ray presents this 1.78:1 AVC picture in all its glory. All of the things we’ve come to expect from a new to Blu-ray “movie” are here. The image has rich contrast, strong and bold colors as well as intricate detail. Yes, all of the boxes are checked. Fans will find themselves right at home with this good-looking image.

Audio: How’s it sound?

A fairly standard (though it has some moments) DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is included. Admittedly I found it a bit odd hearing Huge Laurie speak in his native tongue, I guess I was spoiled by House M.D. for so many years. Nevertheless, vocals are pure and crisp, surrounds are used sparingly, though effectively and the front stage handles the rest of the audio with the greatest of ease. It’s a passable track that’s sure to please.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately, the only “extra” is the this is the Uncensored Edition, with a few more clips. No actual supplements have been included.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I was happy with The Night Manager. It was beautifully shot and well acted, even if it is a little bit slower than it should have been and a bit less cynical than I would have liked. As far as mini-series go, I would absolutely give this one a shot. Le Carre novels actually benefit from the extended length the format offers and this one is no exception. Aside from my minor complaints, this is for the most part an excellent addition

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