October 25, 2013
. They’ve got much more life-threatening problems to deal with first. Marat Milankovic, the Russian who bought all the art from Mr Stevens, asked Sam and Phil to take care of him for a day, and the MI5 – including rogue agent Smoke – are hot on their tail. The climactic scene of this episode, featuring a motorcycle chase and a standoff with a helicopter, is the biggest stunt we’ve seen on The Wrong Mans, including that first car crash. And it’s brilliant. I’d probably watch this show if it was just about Sam and Phil working in an office, but the action set pieces have all been great. Somehow, it’s always a surprise when they pull off something on this scale, and that makes it even more satisfying.
I’ve said before that I appreciated how fast each episode moves and how quickly each individual subplot gets wrapped up, and that’s still true, but I think this episode really kicked things up a notch. Suddenly, the writing seems more confident, more in control. It’s a show that can easily find room to let its characters reminisce about their childhoods or argue over pasties while simultaneously setting up an explosive showdown featuring at least three different modes of transport and unravelling an elaborate town planning plot. That takes some doing, but The Wrong Mans is pulling it off.
The attention to detail is impressive, too – did you catch the Berkshire County Council eye test-style poster in the mail room, or Phil’s Bourne Identity mug? The only slight cockup I noticed was in the MI5 scene at the beginning: apparently Sam is 29, having been born in 1983, but Phil, born in 1985, is 31? Can intelligence agents not do basic arithmetic, or what? Perhaps I should cut them some slack, though: they did have the amazing Rebecca Front glaring at them while they read out our mans’ vital statistics. Maybe they got flustered.
It becomes quite apparent within minutes of Thor: The Dark World starting that Marvel's latest endeavour is not to be the comic book movie that breaks the current trend and tries to contain its goals. Instead, the heavy exposition and recapping is underway immediately. There are nine realms, there's a convergence that you're going to be told about more than once (just to make sure you get the point), and there's an immediate introduction to Christopher Eccleston's Malekith, a foe so deadly that it required another call to Tom Hiddleston's agent to demonstrate just how powerful this latest antagonist was.
And in a year that's brought us Man Of Steel, Thor: The Dark World occasionally tries to go toe-to-toe in its desire to put across wholesale destruction on a cinema screen (albeit not in anywhere near as many prolonged doses, and this time with London in its crosshairs). Furthermore, lots more ingredients are thrown into the mix in the first half. With inevitable mention of The Avengers, and Thor's failure to return to Jane after the end of the first film to deal with, Thor: The Dark World gamely tries to cover as much ground as it can. There's a locked up Loki, Jane and her team back on Earth, Stellan Skarsgard on ITV with very few clothes on, and a simmering family saga that brings together Thor, Loki, Odin and Frigga. It's a busy, fast, chatty film, not least as it tries to establish and manage its many, many moving parts.