Kidnap and Ransom
Never promise, never lie. That’s the personal mantra of
hostage negotiator Dominic King (Trevor Eve).
A veteran of the gulf war, King now works for a
London-based company which provides ‘kidnap insurance’ to high-value
corporate employees working in some of the world’s most dangerous
trouble spots. King’s job isn’t about taking justice to the bad guys-
it’s simply about negotiating a price, and bringing the hostages home.
There is no good or evil, only the deal.
After reeling from a bad transaction where the hostage
ends up dead, King is sent on another, more dangerous mission to South
Africa. This time a botanist named Naomi Shaffer (Emma Fielding) has
been targeted by kidnappers, and it’s up to King to broker a deal for
her release. But these small-time bandits turn out to be the least of
his worries, when an ex-military unit led by Willard (John Hannah)
King comes across as a true maverick, shrugging off the
intervention attempts of the British consulate, the police, and even his
employers, with the single-minded goal of seeing the deal through. There
is a lot of moral ambiguity about ‘Kidnap and Ransom,’ and it makes for
a thoroughly entertaining experience. Dominic King isn’t quite the good
guy- he’s actually quite ruthless in his methods, not hesitating to use
emotional blackmail in order to get the result. The metaphor of a chess
game is used quite a bit throughout the show, and you get the feeling
that it is used ironically; the characters exist somewhere apart from
the black and white, in a world filled with shades of grey.
Adding a human aspect to the story are Dominic King’s
interactions with his wife and daughter; for all his ability to reason
with a crazed gunman on the other end of a telephone, he seems
remarkably inept at communicating with his own family.
The production values are top-notch for a television
mini-series, with some evocative shots and excellent make-up. The
soundtrack is unobtrusive but effective, and the simple notes of the
show’s theme lingered in my head long after the credits. The writing is
razor sharp, on par with the best you can expect from 24 or
Spooks. John Hannah’s deadpan performance as the villain is a real
treat to watch, and his conversations with King are the highlight of the
If there is a downside, it would be the constant use of
flashbacks, especially in the second of the three episodes. They jar you
out of the story and come across as being filler; by the middle of the
last instalment you just wish they’d finish so you can go back to
enjoying the show.
The final episode would have to be the weakest, because
as the plot becomes more complicated, it starts to strain credibility.
Would seven years of complex medical research really fit on a single A4
sheet of paper? Thankfully it doesn’t do too much to dull the shine of
an otherwise brilliant and believable thriller.
The single Featurette on this disc is an interview with
actor and executive producer Trevor Eve, in which he talks about
bridging the gap in quality between film and television. He also
recounts meeting with actual hostage negotiators in his attempt to add a
depth of realism to the show.