Line of Duty 4, Thandie Newton

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 12/03/2017 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Series Iconic **EMBARGOED UNTIL SUNDAY 12TH MARCH 2017** Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Superintendent Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Des Willie/ Aidan Monaghan

Suspicious minds – Det Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), Det Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), Det Sergeant Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)

Another breathless and twisting engagement with the corruption-busters

★★★★ BBC1, starts Sunday, 26 March, 9pm

LINE OF DUTY has got better and better in previous series. Sadly, there is no Keeley Hawes this time, but the show has mixed up the chemistry with another interesting new face – Thandie Newton.

The corruption-busters played by Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return. This time there is a bit of needle between newly promoted Kate Fleming (McClure) and the not newly promoted Steve Arnott (Compston).

Thandie Newton, familiar from films such as Crash and most recently TV’s Westworld, here plays DCI Roz Huntley. Her team captures a serial killer and straightaway she is under pressure to make a charge stick.

Line of Duty‘s game of mirrors

The fly in the ointment is her forensics guy, Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins), who suggests the educationally backward suspect has been framed.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: **EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01HRS THURSDAY 16TH MARCH 2017** Tim Ifield (JASON WATKINS) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Bringing corruption to light? Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins)

The beauty of Line of Duty is that investigating police wrongdoing is a dangerous game of mirrors, and once again the viewer is not sure who is good and not so good. The immediate face-off is between Roz and the slightly creepy Tim. But is Roz bent?

Or is Tim playing some kind of game with her? It is Tim who gets AC-12 involved at looking into Roz.

Lee Ingleby as Roz’s husband

As happened with the opening of series 3 and the explosive introduction to Daniel Mays’s  off-kilter cop Danny Waldron, once again we’re swept along in a breathless opening episode. An abduction, a frantic chase and an explosion – it’s exhausting to watch.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Watching the detective – Roz Huntley and Kate Fleming

Lee Ingleby plays Roz’s husband and, though he doesn’t have much to do in the opener, it is clear that her private will be a vital part of the drama.

As we’ve come to expect, the performances are compelling and the atmosphere as claustrophobic as the Victoria Line during rush hour.

It’s refreshing to have such a well-written crime series that breaks free of the traditional British obsession with period whodunits. This is rough and tough, and the climax at the end of episode one is almost absurdly nail-biting.

Westworld, Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in Westworld

Who am I? Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores

Holidays from hell in this imaginative update of the 1973 movie

★★★★ HBO and Sky Atlantic, starts October

OK, it’s science fiction and this is a crime site – but Westworld is also a thriller. We don’t often stray from the beat of cops and criminals, but occasionally there’s an intrigue with speculative elements such as Utopia or The Frankenstein Chronicles that we need to investigate.

'Westworld' is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin. The one-hour drama features actors Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan, and Simon Quarterman.

Playing god – Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright as Dr Robert Ford and Bernard Lowe

And having seen a couple of episodes of Westworld, it’s been a delight to get away from the more mundane fare (Lewis, DCI Banks, anyone?) for something this absorbing.

Westworld is based, in case you didn’t know, on the fondly remembered 1973 Michael Crichton movie, which starred Yul Brynner. Like Crichton’s blockbuster Jurassic Park, this was a yarn about a futuristic theme park gone lethally haywire.

Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood and Ed Harris

Westworld is the western-themed virtual-reality holiday camp where the rich go to indulge their dark desires, such as shooting villains or bedding prostitutes. This new TV version from HBO is much more sophisticated and beautifully realised than the original (watch a trailer for the movie here).

Thandie Newton as Maeve

Thandie Newton as Maeve

On top of that it has attracted the kind of brilliant cast even the movie could not (Brynner was on the wane in 1973 and Richard Benjamin was not quite A-list). Now we have Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and Borgen‘s Sidse Babett Knudsen.

Where the movie was told from the vantage point of the two average joes on holiday in Westworld, the series focuses on the scientists and the artificial beings who populate the theme park. We first encounter Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), who wakes everyday and goes through the same narrative for the guests, or town ‘newcomers’ as she believes they are.

Who – or what – is the Man in Black?

Dolores’s life is on a Groundhog Day loop, only when she wakes every day and greets her homesteader father, she has no recollection of the day before. When she sleeps, her dreams are probed by the boffins – ‘Ever feel inconsistencies in your world?’

'Westworld' is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin. The one-hour drama features actors Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan, and Simon Quarterman.

Off script – the Man in Black

In 30 years there have been no critical failures at Westworld. Until now.

One cowboy, Walter, seems to have got tired of ‘buying it’ – or getting shot by the guests. And when Dolores’s father finds a discarded photo of a guest in modern-day New York, the image does not compute and sends him into meltdown.

Dolores herself even seems to finally be picking up on ‘inconsistencies’ in her reality. As for Ed Harris’s menacing Man in Black, he’s totally off script.

It’s a bold idea to take us into the minds of artificial beings who seem on the dawn of breaking free of their bonds, and adds a fascinating dimension to the original story. The story also breathes modern norms of computer technology, talking the language of program updates, new builds and system bugs.

Artificial Intelligence, sex tourism and sin

Which could be behind the malfunction. Anthony Hopkins plays the equivalent of Jurassic Park‘s Richard Attenborough character, Hammond, the brains behind the games. He’s been perfecting the software, which seems to be allowing the artificial beings to retain some memories.

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores

Memories are made of this – Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores

Is he playing a dangerous private game? Or is he and his team just not as ahead of the curve as they have always thought?

The movie was certainly ahead of its time and today the ideas behind it are even more resonant. It looks into the worlds of artificial intelligence, sex tourism (with fembots), consciousness and even the idea of sin. It’s going to be intriguing to watch this unfold over 10 episodes.

There are even reports that HBO is already planning five series of Westworld, according to The Verge. With Game of Thrones reaching a conclusion, Westworld is apparently being lined up as heir apparent.

In a shootout between the two, I think Westworld looks the more provocative and engrossing.

HBO’s Westworld coming this October

HBO’s sci-fi thriller Westworld will be on air this October (on Sky Atlantic in the UK) – and it looks a bit special. Inspired by the classic 1973 movie starring Yul Brynner, which was written and directed by Michael Crichton, this 10-parter has a terrific cast – Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton. You know the story – nutty scientist (Hopkins) sets up a theme park where all human desires can be indulged. Now check out the trailer…

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