Although it has its amusing moments, in eneral the plot does not convince.
A film with more than the usual spoiler issues. Talking about it in any detail feels akin to handing you a gift-wrapped present and saying, "I hope you like it -- It's a thriller about a diabolical secret experiment."
All of these films share one commonality, that being a kind of emotional center that humanizes a cast of monsters.
By the time the dramatic fireworks start popping off, each one feels earned.
THIS IS A REVIEW FOR THE FIRST SEASON ONLY:Phenomenal. Ask me one word to describe this mini-series, and I'll answer you that. Then I'll urge you to go watch it. Why? Well, for starters, this show is gripping in a very subtle way with its slow-pace and it's gets increasingly hard as it goes on not to be on the edge of your seat, anxious and with a bitter taste all over your mouth(read: impossible). I ended up kind of binge-watching this in one day and, let me tell you, I've been not a trifle disappointed with the final chapter and the way things end up unwinding. Matter of fact, I'm convinced the last episode was the best in terms of tension and build-up, something quite rare in today's series where lacking scripts fit for maybe two hours are stretched into six- and then some. This was not the case at all. Last but not (at all!) least, the acting: Ben Whishaw is a gem, and a horribly underrated one at that. His restless eyes, along with his general face expressions, are what makes the character so enthralling and real throughout. Not that the words have no weight, mind: they, do of course, and the script is not faulty or vague. This guy, however, have eyes that speak volumes and the versatility with which I've seen him use them in here, as well as in another works, is truly praiseworthy. In general, every actor did a hell of a great job with the exception of, perhaps, Ben Coulter's mother who I couldn't help but feel was always stiff and even a bit robot-like in a way that didn't seemed all that natural. But maybe that's just me! Anyway, the bottom line is this makes a real enjoyable watch, if a bit bittersweet for the questions it invariably raises in us. I highly recommend this show to everyone who's into this particular genre, its high quality makes it clearly stand out from all the poorly-thought out 'dramas' we get nowadays. Congrats to the BBC on this one!
The reviews here are a bit confusing, as several of them seem to be reviewing Part 2, which in America, anyway, is not on Netflix as yet.Part 1 concerns a young man, Ben Coulter (Ben Whishaw) who one night takes his dad's cab out in order to meet some friends. While the cab is stopped, a young woman named Melanie (Ruth Negga) gets in and wants to go to the seaside. Ben decides on a whim to take her. At the end of the evening, the two wind up at her place and have sex. The next morning, Ben wakes up in the kitchen. He goes upstairs, dresses, and tells Melanie he is going. Then he realizes she's dead and there's blood everywhere. Panicked, he rushes away, only to return to try to get rid of any sign that he was there. He's ultimately picked up, questioned, and later arrested for murder. Ben doesn't remember a darn thing about what happened.This is a very good miniseries, a little too packed in the last episode, but an excellent indictment of not only the justice system but the prison system, as the frightened Ben endures abuse and bullying from seasoned prisoners. He soon learns that even the guards are run by one prisoner, Freddie Graham, a terrifying man who manages to get everyone in his debt and then forces payback.Not that outside the prison, things are much better. Ben's father gets him high-prized solicitors who have no interest in Ben and just want to make a deal, and a barrister (Lindsay Duncan) who insists on a self-defense plea. Ben finally goes back to his original attorney, a public defender, a no-nonsense guy (Con O'Neill) who wants Ben to play the courtroom game but wants the truth as well.Ben's plight and Whishaw's sensitive performance are more than enough to hold interest. What's best about Ben is how he matures from the first to the last episode. Fantastic work. There is one shot of him and Melanie, sitting on the other side of an amusement park, in the dark, looking at the brilliant lights from the rides, two young people, enjoying life with everything in front of them. It's quite sobering.The rest of the acting is top-notch. Con O'Neill as Stone, the public defender, is wonderful as a streetwise solicitor with a husky voice and a big heart; Lindsay Duncan as a no-nonsense barrister who wants to cut to the chase; Pete Postlethwaite as Hooch, Ben's cell mate, a lifer who is there to protect Ben but has his own turmoil; and Bill Paterson as the gentle-speaking detective, Harry Box. That's only a few, but everyone is marvelous.The last episode is almost done in shorthand, packing in a ton of information and referring to incidents rather than showing them. And you have to watch and listen closely, or you'll be asking 'what happened'. Pay close attention.
This mini-series hits the ground running, the first episode including the sea side scenes and part of the second are just fantastic, but then the drama engages in the ambitious task of analyzing whatever may or may not be wrong with the British penal and judicial system, I praise the intent, but to incorporate seamlessly and successfully this sort of concerns into a drama is not an easy task, we are promised some sort of rigorous examination, but instead of 'Oz' (brutal US prison drama), we get some sort of sub-Dickensian ambiguous horrors, where a lot is promised but very little delivered and there is always a little army of semi-benevolent Artful Dodgers and Fagins to save our hero's day, like Peter Postethwaite's Hooch 'the listener' and David Harewood's master criminal Freddie Graham, the latter does a really good job of injecting true menace in its role. We know we are entering Dickensian territory when Con O'Neill seedy lawyer complete with gotta, bandaged feet and perennial facial stubble appears on the scene, the irony is that he does a wonderful turn and steals every scene in which he appears, it is just that it feels like he had just been wandering out of a Great Expectation set to blunder into the wrong drama by mistake. In the last episode where all ideological concerns need to be shed to wind down the narrative the drama seem able to recreate some of the original dramatic tension of the first part. ON THE WHOLE Highly RECOMMENDED!
Engrossing and involving, if highly fictional BBC drama shown over five consecutive nights, highlighting, or should that be low-lighting the British criminal justice system, effectively putting in the dock for viewers' consideration the police force, legal system and prison office, all of whom, on the "evidence" here, are all found wanting. The programme effectively combines three main narrative strands around these institutions of modern society, from the murder incident itself and the police detective (defective?) work alongside it, the trial process set at length in a court of law and perhaps most effectively the dehumanising incarceration process within the confines of prison. Some bits work better than others. The basic murder mystery is handled somewhat freely and brought to a fairly undramatic conclusion, although it's main purpose I think was likely to be in effectively highlighting the grey area of collusion which purportedly exists between lawman and lawbreaker, here personified by Bill Paterson's career cop being surprisingly in cahoots with the Mr Big, played by David Harewood in prison. I also found the depiction of the legal system somewhat hackneyed with characters and situations just too stereotyped and really more at home in the mediocre BBC legal soap opera "New Street Law" from last year. Examples of this are the young female junior barrister getting involved (albeit lightly) with the young defendant and her barnstorming attempt to pin the murder on the dead girl's father, without even checking if he had an alibi (as of course he did). What will stay in the memory most however are the scenes in prison where the vilification of the prison service is damned to hell. There are no upholders of the law in the jail, the prison officers invariably displayed as weak, conniving or both. I really can't or maybe don't want to believe things are that bad in UK prisons with a Freddie Graham character running the place as his own fiefdom. That said, it made for taut drama, with many memorable if shocking scenes of rampant moral corruption inside. The acting is mostly very good, Pete Postlethwaite unsurprisingly, given his pedigree, taking the honours with a completely credible performance as Hooch, the hard-bitten lifer who's learned to adapt and survive but ultimately at the expense of his own conscience, which he redeems but pays for in full at the end. There are other excellent turns too, principally by Con O'Neill as the Colombo-type gumshoe who plays the situation for all he can get, Bill Patterson as the too-long-in-the-tooth detective who now blurs the line between right and wrong and Lesley Duncan as the experienced cynical senior barrister who rides roughshod over her client's feelings to get the easiest and quickest result for her. Special mention must go though to Ben Whilshaw as the innocent, out-for-a-good-time youngster who is drawn into a latter-day Kafka-ish nightmare who emerges at the end physically intact but obviously deeply affected by his horrific experiences and who in the last scene now feels outcast from the friendly football kick-about in which he participated in the opening scenes. He has a face reminiscent of John Lynch in "Cal" or David Bradley in "Kes", and portrays what must have been a gruelling role with conviction and realism. On the whole an excellent thought-provoking drama, let down only slightly by its probably necessary concessions to TV drama with perhaps more cliffhangers than would probably be the case with more typical, I would imagine, hum-drum real-life criminal cases. One caveat - would the BBC please stop its infuriating habit of trailing the succeeding programme at the end of the current programme. It's unnecessary and insulting to viewers' intelligence, especially in this instance when the programme was shown over successive nights.