Writer Lynda La Plante, whose two longform “Prime Suspect” police dramas on PBS set a new high in the genre, comes back with a subtler, sleeker exploration of cop capers; the first two hours minutely inspect the two principals’ character; the second chapter winds with a riveting hare-and-hounds race and a load of revelations. La Plante again hits the gong.
Sgt. Larry Jackson (David Morrissey), on vacation in Spain with wife Susan (Annabelle Apsion) and the kids, spots Eddie Myers (Timothy Dalton), a presumed-dead British master robber/murderer.
Alerting the local and British police back home, he manages a coup by nailing the wealthy Eddie; unwittingly he becomes tied to him for the duration.
When they get back to England, Larry’s boss, McKinnes (Timothy West), assigns Larry to lone duty with Eddie, to find out the names of associates. La Plante shrewdly shows Eddie figuratively deflowering Larry by flashing signs of the high life as he informs on his colleagues.
There’s a plot hole: Eddie confides an important secret to Larry about his dead brother, though others say there was no such brother. It’s tough to believe that cop Larry wouldn’t check out records to see whether the brother did exist.
Larry’s nagging wife and his own vision of the better things in life, including Eddie’s mistresses (Penelope Cruz, Rowena King), start him thinking. And when Eddie’s wounded in an auto accident, Eddie moves in closer, dangling an impending bank job before Larry; Larry wavers.
Relationships are the heart of the drama, and director Geoffrey Sax, blessed with a fine cast as well as a smashing script, builds on intricate variations of the characters. Morrissey’s plain-pudding face works wonderfully for the character as Larry gradually catches on to what’s happening. Dalton’s Eddie, commanding and sophisticated, is a rich study of an intricate personality dedicated to self-service.
Apsion’s longing Susan is both pitiable and rightfully irritating, and West creates a rasping counterpoint to Larry’s naivete with his bitter, Javert-like McKinnes. Cruz’s contribution is significant, and Francis Johnson, playing Susan’s policeman confidante, is solid.
Guy Slater’s production looks terrif, and Barry McCann’s incisive camerawork, imaginative editing by Graham Walker (with Jim Howe in Part II), are all top-flight.
Here’s quality fare.