I was bored last night so, after watching a couple of episodes of Black Books, I scrolled through some of the other offerings on 4OD and settled on the spy thriller Complicit starring David Oyelowo, formerly of Spooks– lateral casting or what? He plays middling MI5 analyst Edward Ekubo who, after months of investigating British Muslim terrorist suspect Waleed Ahmed, played Arsher Ali, follows him to Egypt. There, with no evidence forthcoming and with his paranoia that Waleed might be planning a spectacular back home, becomes complicit in torture.
Bad: Running through the drama is the irritatingly simplistic question of whether an act of questionable morality is ever justified for the greater good.* I say “irritating” because we have heard this question so many, many times. Even in genre fiction we have Star Trek‘s “good of the many” speech, Babylon 5 addressed the morality of using information gained from atrocity and, of course, we have Katherine Bigelow disappointing us with the more mainstream, but infinitely stupid, Zero Dark Thirty. And that, believe it or not Ripley, is the whole ninety odd minutes TV movie in a nutshell.
Good: On the plus side David Oyelowo and Arsher Ali’s acting was quite superb. Both played fairly unsympathetic characters, one a passed-over, resentful, patriotic and ambitious black civil servant from a lesser university (really, if you are going to join the civil service watch Yes, Minister) , the other an oppressed, angry and fanatical British Muslim. In one particular scene we see Waleed turning the tables and taking control of the interview by asking what a “nigger like you is doing in MI5” to which Edward explodes into a speech that would make the vile Nick Griffin proud. In fact, the portrayal of the clever and manipulative Waleed by lanky northerner Arsher Ali strongly reminded me of a younger Christopher Eccleston during his Our Friends in the North era. Let’s hope the talented Ali doesn’t get stuck playing terrorists and that this is the last time I have to watch the equally talented Oyelowo playing an (un)intelligence officer.
I have an early start tomorrow, so that’s it for now.
*The answer is NO.