TV Series Review: Bodyguard (2018)

It seems that Hong Kong audiences will have to wait just a little bit longer until they can see CREED II… legally. The film was supposed to open here two weeks ago but Warner Bros. decided to hold it back (not just here but globally) until this week. Now, the local office of WB has decided to release the film here on January 17, presumably to take advantage of any awards buzz they expect to see develop. I’ve never understood that strategy for this part of the world where piracy is so rampant. By the time the film comes to the big screen, tens of thousands of people here will have seen the film illegally, either from a Shenzhen DVD or off a torrent site. Is the lost box office revenue worth it for these distributors? They obviously think so.

Fortunately, we’re not left crying in our box of popcorn. Thanks to the availability of legal streaming services, we have other options to keep ourselves entertained. The BBC recently aired the new hit series, BODYGUARD, in the UK. It’s now come to Netflix and that means we can watch it here in Hong Kong too.

BODYGUARD centers around David Budd (Richard Madden, TV’s GOT), a Specialist Protection Officer for London’s Metropolitan Police Service who gets assigned to protect Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes, TV’s LINE OF DUTY), the government’s ambitious and controversial Home Secretary. Budd is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffers from PTSD but he’s decided to keep his disability under wraps to everyone but his estranged wife and press on with his duties. After a series of attempts on the Home Secretary’s life puts him square in the spotlight, he must use all his wits and training to not only clear his name but uncover who is behind the conspiracy to discredit Montague.

The six-part series certainly starts off with a bang… well, almost a bang, as Budd singlehandedly averts disaster on board a London-bound train that he and his two young children happen to be riding. That tension continues to build through to the end of the nail-biting third episode as the deeply conflicted police sergeant has to not only deal with his own inner demons but also the real, external ones who seek undermine British democracy. And then it goes off the rails. In the series’ final episode, rather than focussing on unravelling the motivations behind the conspiracy and its aftermath, series creator Jed Mercurio (TV’s LINE OF DUTY) instead turns the story’s attention to a protracted and highly unrealistic sequence involving Budd and an explosive vest. By the time that matter is resolved, there are only a few minutes left to quickly tie up some loose ends. It’s all feels very rushed and doesn’t score high on the believability scale. Mercurio has said that he intended the series to be a one-off so it seems both sad and strange that such a strong beginning would end in a whimper. Fortunately, it was confirmed the other day that a second season is in the works. Hopefully, it will be able to address some of those lingering questions series viewers all have.

There has been plenty of speculation in recent months over who will take over the role of James Bond after Daniel Craig retires. Even before this series came out, Madden’s name was bandied about a possibility. Now, I would say he’s the actor to beat. He’s excellent as David Budd, as the King of the North shows us that he can play a buttoned down, high-powered action star too.

Even with its feeble ending, BODYGUARD still makes for some exciting television. Definitely check it out!

BODYGUARD is available on BBC and Netflix.

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Thursday, November 22nd at 8:30 am HK time!

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