fri 23/03/2018

Hard Sun, BBC One review - cops versus the end of the world | reviews, news & interviews

Hard Sun, BBC One review - cops versus the end of the world

Hard Sun, BBC One review - cops versus the end of the world

Sizzling start for Neil Cross's pre-apocalyptic thriller

Trouble ahead: Agyness Deyn as Elaine Renko and Jim Sturgess as Charlie Hicks

Fans of Luther will be familiar with writer Neil Cross’s fondness for hideous violence, shocking plot-twists and macabre humour, as well as characterful London locations, and happily they’re all present and correct in this new sci-fi thriller. Cross’s madly escalating timetable of terror goes like this: take two mismatched detectives, set them off on a murder investigation, then start the clock ticking on the annihilation of the entire planet.

The shockathon commenced right from the opening sequence. For an hors d’oeuvre, we saw the spook-ish Grace Morrigan (Nikki Amuka-Bird, another Luther veteran, pictured below) looking at a top secret live video link of the Sun, and evidently being appalled by what it was telling her. Then we cut to who we later learned was detective Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn), returning to her home and being viciously attacked by a knife-wielding assassin. After a horrific bout of slashing, crashing and smashing, the blood-drenched Renko just managed to crawl outside before her home exploded in an orange fireball.

But it was eight months later that the main action began, when DI Renko was assigned to work with DCI Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess). Hicks seemed suspicious when he was introduced to his new partner by his boss, the tight-lipped DCS Bell (Derek Riddell, pictured below). Gradually we learned why, or at least part of why. Hicks is evidently under suspicion in connection with the death of his former cop buddy Alex Butler, whom he professes to have loved dearly. However, it seems he loved Butler’s wife even more, and their affair has survived the death of her husband. Hicks suspects Renko is a mole, despite Bell’s bland assurance that there is no hidden agenda (come off it, when isn’t there?). He may have a point, since Renko has turned the ceiling space of her hotel room (her home was blown up, remember) into a crime laboratory dedicated to the Butler case.

But never mind all this below-the-line stuff, Hicks and Renko also had ongoing cases to crack, crucially the one involving a memory stick containing the illicitly-obtained Hard Sun files. Conspiracy fan Lloyd Hammond, searching for evidence of extra-terrestrial life, instead stumbled on the greatest secret ever (unsuccessfully) kept, that the Sun was on course to obliterate the Earth. He showed it to his mercenary-minded hacker friend Sunny Ramachandran (Tom Reed), who made a lightning-fast calculation of its value and contacted his regular buyer, a grumpy man who lives in a luxury riverside condo.

Hammond’s spectacular plummet from a 15th floor balcony swiftly had the cops on Sunny’s tail (after some brilliant deductive reasoning by Renko), but their success would prove their downfall. Murky powers-that-be in the political and security establishments want the lid nailed down firmly on the Hard Sun story, and they don’t care how many bodies they leave in their wake in the process. After all, nobody has any experience of dealing with the end of the world as we know it, and famine, drought, radiation poisoning and widespread anarchy may be just some of the possible inconveniences facing the authorities. Soon, Renko and Hicks were desperate fugitives, dodging gangs of licensed-to-kill thugs in the streets of south London.

Whether Cross can maintain the scorching pace of this opener remains to be seen, and the plot is outlandish enough to spin out of control entirely, but there must be some thrills along the way. Hicks and Renko make an odd but effective pairing. Deyn plays Renko as a boyish waif with steely reserves of determination and ingenuity, while Hicks, equipped with hipster-beard and lavish quantities of rather smarmy self-regard, is being forced to strip down his whole life before trying to reassemble it. All before the world ends, of course. “We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot” sang David Bowie on the soundtrack, the song peaking to a powerful emotional climax. Will there be a starman waiting in the sky to come to the rescue?


Murky powers-that-be want the lid nailed down on the Hard Sun story


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Yet more absolute bobbins from the BBC. Cliched, predictable with too many side issues getting in the way of the main story. This should have been an edge of the seat thriller from the off, instead I spent 20 minutes waiting for the story to start, and then we were served up the usual oh-so-pc BBC vision of morally bankrupt and not terrible clever male leads alongside the bright intelligent yet slightly troubled through- no- fault -of- their -own female characters. the one of which looks like she would fall over in a strong wind - yet we're supposed to believe she can beat a seasoned police officer in a fight. Plee-esss! There's a good story here somewhere, but this aint it. Lets hope the Americans remake it and do a better job.

But what did Alex Butler do so Hicks had to kill him? Some mention of a video on a secret laptop - but what?

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