Adapted from the novels by Mick Herron, “Slow Horses” with Gary Oldman breaks the traditional codes of the spy series. What is this new original production to follow every week on AppleTV+ worth?
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
British intelligence agents are sent to an obscure department – a sort of storage room – of MI5, called the “Slough House”. The cause: the many mistakes they have made and which are slowly leading them to the end of their career…
The Slow Horses series is streaming on AppleTV+
WHO IS IT WITH?
In contrast to his role as a cold and calculating spy in The Mole, Gary Oldman lends his features here to Jackson Lamb, a disillusioned MI-5 recruiter at the head of the Slough House unit (“The House of Tocards” in French), where the spies pushed towards the exit of the British secret service fail.
At his side, a gallery of young actors to embody these fallen agents: Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) as River Cartwright, sent to Slough House after making a big mistake during live training; or even Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One), in the skin of Sidonie Baker, determined to keep to herself the reasons that led to her transfer to Slough House.
Finally, two emblematic actors of British cinema also appear in the distribution of Slow Horses : Francophile Kristin Scott Thomas in the skin of Diana Taverner, high-ranking leader of MI-5 aiming for the direction of the service, while Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) lends his features to David Cartwright, legendary retired spy and incidentally grandfather of River.
WELL WORTH A LOOK ?
Forget John Le Carré’s novels, the James Bond saga… Contrary to all spy stories, Slow Horses follows the story of fallen secret agents, relegated to the closet of MI-5: the Slough House unit, or the Maison des tocards in French. A new original production from AppleTV+, the series is adapted from the best-selling novels by English writer Mick Herron.
Not devoid of humor, the series gladly plays the parody card, without being fully in line with the humorous register. Thus, the characters of the program are divided into two categories: those determined to remain at the bottom of the British secret service ladder, sometimes in defiance of their own dignity, and those determined to restore their reputation with MI officials. 5.
In this respect, the character of Jackson Lamb, in charge of the Slough House unit, takes the place of the most complex character; presented as a filthy and contemptuous man, the latter nevertheless appears via flashbacks as a respectable spy. How to explain such a change of personality? What blunder put an end to his promising career? And what link(s) does he have with the Slow Horses of the unit?
Imperial in anti-James Bond, Gary Oldman delivers a controlled performance, but nevertheless insufficient to compensate for the much too stereotypical writing of his character. Is it necessary to insist so heavily on the crappy aspect of the latter, even if it means falling into a clumsy humor, bordering on pee-poo (Jackson Lamb is introduced in the series dozing on a sofa, startled awake by his own flatulence).
Overall, the casting was perfectly chosen, starting with Jack Lowden more than convincingly as a secret agent torn between a personal spirit of revenge and the pressure to share the name of a legendary MI-5 spy, in the occurrence that of his grandfather played by Jonathan Pryce. After his remarkable performances in Dunkirk and the miniseries War and peacethe 31-year-old English actor confirms his excellent career start.
Pleasant to follow both for the originality of its point of view, the diversity of its characters and its breathtaking narrative thread, Slow Horses is certainly not the series that will revolutionize the genre of espionage. But its qualities are more than enough to encourage anyone who likes well-crafted investigations to follow it every week on AppleTV+.
Rolling Stones fans will not be left out, since the credits were written especially for the needs of the series by Mick Jagger, an unconditional fan of Mick Herron’s novels, in collaboration with the excellent composer Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs, Spider-Man: Next Generation). The 78-year-old rockstar had already composed original songs for the cinema, but never yet for television.
The song Strange Game composed and performed by Mick Jagger:
What about a sequel? A season 2 would already be started although the renewal of the program has not been confirmed either by the platform or by its creators.