Before the third part of Hunted hit the airwaves I was watching the 1989 James Bond film Licence to Kill, where the maverick hero infiltrates a criminal syndicate to scupper a high-stakes deal. Whilst Licence to Kill isn’t regarded by some as the highpoint of the Bond series, it manages more in two hours than Hunted, with a similar premise, has largely achieved in three so far.
This week the action finally shifts out of the mansion to a luxury hotel where Sam is still trusted to tag along with the Turners even as they’re entering into an international auction for rights to the Pakistan dam. This is done by sealed bids – basically, whoever has the golden envelope, wins – and how Phil and Kirstie would liven this up as it takes an hour to get to a none-too-tense scene.
Meanwhile Sam inexplicably encounters an adversary from her time in the Middle East – who just happens to be a rival bidder – whilst her dull-as-ditchwater ex Aidan is busy romping with an MI5 agent (the always excellent Indira Varma) and giving away Byzantium’s closely guarded secrets.
It’s a slow episode again that only bursts out of torpor when the brutal and well-mounted action scenes kick in (though Sam’s encounter with two hitmen in a maze is a bit wasted) but at least they manage to throw a genuinely unexpected twist into the mix – ‘hourglass’ (something the titles hint at, I guess) – a scheme which may or may not have government involvement, thanks to a nice scene with Dermot Crowley at the end, playing a mysterious old spy named George, whose bespectacled, cardigan-wearing, ready meal eating presence may be a nod to one of fiction’s great spooks.
One good thing; the Byzantium team are starting to show some depth, with Morven Christie’s terrific Zoe leading the way not to mention the scruffy bloke who’s happy to slum in the name of duty making a good foil for her, whilst even the brilliantly named Deacon Crane gets a nice scene on the phone to his distant son. They all need to do more than talk, though, to really grab us as people.
This week ends with the auction still open for no other reason than to help things stretch to eight episodes and Sam still successfully flitting in and out of the bad guys’ operations unnoticed. Hunted may be struggling, but at least it’s trying. A bit.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 18th October 2012 on BBC One.
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