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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Masterpiece: Worricker: The Complete Series'
(Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Walken, Rachel Weisz, Helena Bonham-Carter, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2015 / PBS)

Overview: David Hare's thrilling spy trilogy exposes the battles raging inside the intelligence community in the name of security. The Worricker stories include: Page Eight; Salting the Battlefield; and Turks & Caicos.

Blu-ray Verdict: David Hare's thrilling spy trilogy, 'Masterpiece: Worricker: The Complete Series' exposes the battles raging inside the intelligence community in the name of security. The first of the trilogy is 'Page Eight,' where Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-serving MI5 officer whose life - both personal and professional - has just been turned inside out.

When his boss and best friend (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly, Worricker is left on his own to deal with a contentious Top Secret file that threatens the sanctity and stability of the entire MI5 organization. Further complicating his life is his suspicion that a chance encounter with his beautiful neighbor (Rachel Weisz) was, in fact, meticulously orchestrated to serve her own secret agenda.

The story seems to ramble a little, at first, and is not as tight or conventionally depicted as audiences might be used to, but it soon picks up - leading to a 'Johnny on the run' sequence that is as good as any other staple 'spy in hiding' romp in any TV espionage thriller of recent years, but one which is much more believable and down-to-earth.

An unexpected conclusion left me praising Nighy's character for doing the right thing, in normal person terms, rather than 'the right thing' in the usual On Her Majesty's Secret Service terms that we're usually force-fed by spy drama - one of the many things that made the character and those around him seem less like a phantom, emotionless government spook, and more like a human being.

The second episode is 'Turks & Caicos,' where we find that Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is hiding out from his work at MI5 on the tax-exile island paradise Turks & Caicos. Trouble comes knocking when an encounter with a CIA agent (Christopher Walken) forces him into the company of some dubious American businessmen. Claiming to be on the islands for a conference on the global financial crisis, Worricker soon learns their shady activities extend far beyond the business of luxury hotels.

So, as aforementioned, after his escape from England, Johny Worricker is lying low in the Turks and Caicos islands, a British overseas territory with an American currency. Big men with big money are thick on the ground and Johnny soon gets drawn into a mental chess game with them that threatens to expose some unsavory secrets about the business aspects of the 'war on terror'. He soon has to fear for his safety again and re-engages some old friends in England to get to the heart of the matter.

'Turks & Caicois' grew on me after repeated viewing. Because of its slower pace and the fact that most of it take place on a small Caribbean island, it feels more like a good stage play than the other two parts of the Worricker trilogy.

The third, and final episode is 'Salting the Battlefield,' where MI5 officer Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) and Margot Tyrell (Helena Bonham Carter) are on the run together across Europe, going from town to town in Germany. But Worricker knows his only chance of resolving his problems is to return home and confront his nemesis - the prime minister, Alec Beasley (Ralph Fiennes).

Our hero with his ex girlfriend, Margot (Helena Bonham-Carter) are criss- crossing Europe trying to stay one step ahead of the security services and a vengeful Prime Minister. However if you must go out for a coffee early in the morning then chances are you will be spotted. Worricker is being watched, his family and friends are being watched. He is running out of cash and he needs to make a move to reach an endgame.

The film does not mention a date, the name of the governing political party but we can guess this is a New Labour administration set a few years ago and although writer/director has stated that Alec Beasley is a new type of Prime Minister and Ralph Fiennes gives him a healthy dash of Lambert La Roux (the media mogul from a previous Hare play, Pravda) we can sense there is a lot of Tony Blair imbued in the character and events.

We do reach an end game as Worricker feeds the press and confronts the Prime Minister, not without Beasley asking difficult but loaded questions in return which was a very New Labour thing to do. Finally, and if I am honest, I do hope that a fourth is made with Bill Nighy, because I really enjoy his character and his gentlemanly methods and firm principles in an ever changing world. And I'm sure you will do, so stick with this trilogy, as it's worth every minute spent with it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Over 35 Minutes of Bonus Features Including Interviews with The All-Star Cast and Producers.

www.PBS.org





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