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The Worricker Trilogy: Turks & Caicos (11/9) and Salting the Battlefield (11/16)

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  • 24Emmy
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    #338411

    PBS is airing the last two films of David Hare’s The Worricker Trilogy the next two Sundays. Page Eight, the first film, won the Emmy for Main Title Design in 2012. Bill Nighy received a Golden Globe nomination and Judy Davis received an Emmy nomination.

     

    Page Eight, Turks & Caicos, and Salting the Battlefield form The Worricker Trilogy—three gripping films that follow the exploits of the intensely private and scrupulous Worricker—from MI5 headquarters in London to exile on a Caribbean island to life on the run with his former lover and fellow agent Margot Tyrrell (Helena Bonham Carter). A spy who prefers the black-and-white certainties of the Cold War, Worricker (Bill Nighy) finds himself increasingly out of his element as the distinction between ally and enemy dissolves into the amorphous alliances of the 21st century.

     

    Turks & Caicos

    Premieres November 9, 2014 ET on PBS

    Sun, sand, and CIA are the themes of Johnny’s (Bill Nighy) clandestine retirement on a Caribbean island, overrun with high-rolling American businessmen who are bankrolling a mysterious project. Their worldly-wise publicist (Winona Ryder) and a tycoon named Curtis (Christopher Walken) befriend Johnny. The cloak-and-dagger life revives when a dodgy British philanthropist named Stirling Rogers (Rupert Graves) arrives with an associate, Margot (Helena Bonham Carter), whom Johnny knows well. Johnny’s new mission is to escape from an ever-tightening noose.

     

    Salting the Battlefield

    Premieres November 16, 2014 ET on PBS

    Johnny (Bill Nighy) and Margot (Helena Bonham Carter) are together again, just like old times, managing to stay a jump ahead of an international dragnet hard on their heels all across Europe. British Prime Minister Alec Beasley (Ralph Fiennes) desperately wants Johnny back, and so does Johnny’s old MI5 colleague, Jill Tankard (Judy Davis) — but for different reasons. Who will win this frenzied game of spy versus spy? And what happens when a terrible secret sees the light of day?

     

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    24Emmy
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    #338413

    TV Review: Worricker Trilogy: Masterpiece’s ‘Turks & Caicos,’ ‘Salting The Battlefield’

    November 6, 2014 | 09:15AM PT
         
    Brian Lowry
    TV Columnist

    Completing the Worricker Trilogy that began with the 2011 movie “Page Eight,” PBS’ Masterpiece Contemporary offers back-to-back films featuring Bill Nighy as world-weary spy Johnny Worricker: “Turks & Caicos” and “Salting the Battlefield.” “All-star cast” is an overused term but, taking both movies into account, damned if it doesn’t apply, with Christopher Walken, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Winona Ryder and Judy Davis among those enlisting in writer-director David Hare’s cerebral and decidedly jaundiced spin on the efficacy of the War on Terror, which despite leisurely pacing and inordinately long, talky scenes, nevertheless proves totally absorbing.

    In terms of tone, there’s more Raymond Chandler than John Le Carre in these understated surroundings, where never a shot is fired nor punch thrown. Hare’s theatrical background also reveals itself in the long rat-a-tat exchanges between characters, although when those scenes comprise Nighy riffing with Christopher Walken, it’s remarkable just how entertaining two guys in comfy chairs can be.

    Having viewed “Page Eight” is helpful but hardly compulsory to enjoy the sequels, which begin with former MI5 operative Worricker lounging on a beach in Turks & Caicos (whose tourism bureau should send the production a large fruit basket), having been forced by his old-fashioned principles into exile by his own government.

    Worricker has an assumed name, and presents himself as a retired civil servant from the department of fisheries (“I know a lot about cod,” he says dryly), but given his lavish environs, people are understandably skeptical.

    Soon enough, he’s invited to drinks by Walken’s shadowy businessman and an equally mysterious publicist (Ryder), drawing him into an espionage plot surrounding misdirected funds from the War on Terror that representatives of the U.S. government would very much like to recover, seeking Worricker’s help in a manner that’s more ultimatum than request.

    Yes, there’s an offscreen murder that figures into the narrative, but Hare is more preoccupied with the moral compromises engineered in response to the terrorism threat, augmented by all the profits to be made from it. As a consequence, the islands where Worricker has taken refuge are merely “a home for dirty money,” while Judy Davis’ government official concedes in the follow-up, “It used to be very clear who the enemy was,” but not so much anymore.

    It gives away little to say Worricker’s actions in “Turks & Caicos” force him to go on the run in “Salting the Battlefield,” accompanied by another ex-spy as well as his former lover, played by Bonham Carter. His activities, meanwhile, continue to nettle the Prime Minister (Fiennes), whose determination to protect the country raises troubling questions — as familiar in the U.S. as they are in the U.K. — about sacrifices in the name of security.

    Hare isn’t above mounting a soapbox to convey these points, but happily, his surrogates are so articulate and witty — beginning with Nighy, whose voice seldom rises above a soothing whisper — that the lecture goes down smoothly, and the story progresses from one movie into the next as an almost seamless thread.

    In the press materials, Hare is quoted as saying his approach to the movies was that “heavy subject matter should be presented very lightly,” while seeking to impress the view that the intelligence apparatus is “out of control.”

    The filmmaker’s politics won’t appeal to everyone, and will probably reinforce perceptions of PBS as a liberal mouthpiece. In terms of Hare’s objective, though, there’s no irony in saying, “Mission accomplished.”

    TV Review: Worricker Trilogy: Masterpiece’s ‘Turks & Caicos,’ ‘Salting The Battlefield’
    (Movies; PBS, Sun. Nov. 9 & 16, 9 p.m.)

    Production

    Produced by Carnival Films, Heyday Films, BeaglePug and Masterpiece in association with NBC Universal for BBC.

    Crew

    Executive producers, Gareth Neame, Bill Nighy, Christine Langan, Ed Wethered, Nigel Marchant, Rebecca Eaton; producers, Celia Duval, David Heyman, David Barron; writer-director, David Hare; camera, Tom Townend; design, Stevie Herbert; editor, Nick Fenton; music, Paul Englishby; casting, Gail Stevens. 95 MIN.

    Cast

    Bill Nighy, Christopher Walken, Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Davis, Rupert Graves, Olivia Williams, Saskia Reeves, Ewen Bremner, Malik Yoba, Dylan Baker, James Naughton, Zach Grenier, Kate Burdette

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    vinny
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    #338414

    These sound great. I oddly am curious to see if walken and Carter have scenes opposite each other. That seems like a fun pairing.

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    Choice Chayawat
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    #338415

    I quite liked Page Eight, so I’ll definitely catch the sequels, but probably after rewatching the first film.

    Now how will these two films compete at the Emmys? Will they have to submit only one of them a la Sherlock?

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    24Emmy
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    #338416

    Now how will these two films compete at the Emmys? Will they have to submit only one of them a la Sherlock?

     

    Great question. That would be unfair for actors that aren’t in both.

     

    I’ll be rooting hard for Winona Ryder next year. She was amazing in Turks & Caicos and quite sexy too.

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    Carlo
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    #338417

    These movies are two of the few contenders for Made for Tv movie this year..
    Did someone saw them? Any chance of Emmy nominations? 

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