A Better Life on this Scepter’d Isle (Series Review: “Collateral”)

collateralPOSTER

Carey Mulligan shines in a new, limited British crime series in which the cold-blooded murder of a Syrian pizza delivery man is only the first piece of a wider, more sinister plot which unfolds against a backdrop of political intrigue and anti-immigration anxiety.

 

SnapShot Plot

In the new 4-part Netflix series premiering today in the U.S. and directed by S. J. Clarkson, Collateral has been described as a modern-day ‘state of the nation’ project whose story-line takes place in just four days. The always intriguing Mulligan plays DI Kip Glaspie, the calm center in a widening gyre that starts turning when a Syrian immigrant pizza delivery man is gunned down with military precision late one night after his route is abruptly changed by the restaurant manager. When Glaspie arrives on the scene, she and fellow officer, Nathan Bilk (Nathaniel Martello-White) smell trouble. This is no random shooting, but the most pressing question emerges about who the intended victim was, the Syrian who got the route at the last instant or the local lout who would have ordinarily gone in his place? Enter a seemingly incongruous cast of disparate characters, including a lesbian Episcopal priest and a frustrated opposition party MP whose agenda concerns the nation’s tempestuous immigration policies, and its just a matter of time before this isolated crime receives a wider and more authoritarian scrutiny.

 

“We really are turning into a nasty little country”.

Parting Shot

Collateral was written by the venerable David Hare (Plenty; The Hours, The Reader; et al) and much like an Agatha Christie novel in which multiple characters are thrown down like pixie sticks only later to be revealed in their connections to each other, so it is in this narrative which also shines a light on the stubborn problem of what many in England consider to be rampant immigration. Hare himself has described the project as “a police procedural without any of that police attitudinizing”, which may or may not ring true, depending on your politics or geo-social world view. Politics aside, though, Collateral is a well-scripted, finely acted crime thriller which – given its condensed format – makes for an easy binge this weekend. Or just watch it to catch the finely nuanced performance of Mulligan and her oh-so subtle smirk . . . it takes on a life of its own.

Collateral is presently streaming on Netflix.

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YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax22RTERi5E

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