wed 13/11/2019

Prey, ITV | reviews, news & interviews

Prey, ITV

Prey, ITV

Super Simm shines as wronged cop on the run

John Simm as DS Marcus Farrow, probably looking forward to a day off

"Policeman wrongly accused of murder" is possibly not history's most original story idea, but in Prey, writer (and TV debutant) Chris Lunt has turned it into a platform for a skilfully-controlled thriller that keeps your brow sweaty and your breath coming in short panicky gasps. It's greatly assisted by having John Simm playing the lead role of Manchester-based DS Marcus Farrow, since there's nobody better when you want a bit of earthy-but-sincere, with added soulfulness.

Though we first met Farrow in the aftermath of a road accident, when he was trapped in the back of an upside-down police van, we learned in due course that he was a dependable, effective detective and somewhat smarter than the average plod. Recklessly embracing every familiar cop cliché, Lunt had equipped Farrow with a failed marriage, though he doted on his two young sons and still fancied his chances of a reconciliation with wife Abi (Heather Peace, pictured below).

However, two obstacles presented themselves. First Abi confessed she was seeing another bloke called John (which made Farrow so angry he punched a hole in the wall). Maybe that wouldn't have been insurmountable, but we'll never know because Abi was then murdered by an intruder, along with son Max. It was Farrow who found his wife dying of a knife wound, and since his prints were on the knife and her blood was all over his clothes, the investigating officers naturally charged him with murder. Even Farrow's truly heart-rending reaction to the news that his son was dead too - director Nick Murphy just allowed the camera to sit and watch the reactions of shock, disbelief, horror and grief working their way across Simm's face - couldn't shake DI Susan Reinhardt (Rosie Cavaliero) from her conviction that she had her killer.

Obviously she's wrong, and with a further two episodes to go, it's Farrow who's gone on a Robocop-esque manhunt to winkle out the real perp(s). Lunt gave him a getaway leg-up via the laughably convenient device of having the police van transporting him to custody involved in an accident, but full marks for a spectacular stunt in which the van took off, destroyed a traffic light as it flew across a dual carriageway, and landed about 50 yards away in a tangle of disintegrating bodywork. 

A lot of this sounds preposterous written down in black and white, but the unrelenting pace and a cluster of nicely-rounded characters keep the brew simmering. Anastasia Hille plays DCI Andrea Mackenzie, Farrow's unusually humane boss, while Cavaliero makes the most of the Reinhardt role. She too has a failed marriage, and has been reduced to the pitiful stratagem of stalking her remarried husband. She also has an inferiority complex, exacerbated by the patronising attitudes of her colleagues, and is all-too-obviously desperate to make a success of the Farrow case.

And finally what are we to make of Farrow's best buddy and fellow-cop Sean Devlin? He seems like a decent, warm-hearted guy, but he's played by Craig Parkinson (pictured above with Simm). Parkinson was last seen as the indescribably sinister "Dot" Cottan in Line of Duty, and you certainly wouldn't catch me lending him a tenner, whatever he's calling himself this week.

The van destroyed a traffic light as it flew across a dual carriageway and landed in a tangle of disintegrating bodywork

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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