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Benedict Cumberbatch in The Last Enemy

Okay. So I just finished watching the BBC miniseries The Last Enemy. It features both Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Carlyle, and it's a sort of modern-day 1984 by way of The X-Files. Without giving anything away, I think I can safely squee about how hot BC is in this series - and yes, there are nude scenes - and how interesting it is to see him play a character who has much in common with Sherlock - the obsessive compulsion, the desire to pursue his cerebral work without distractions, the rapid-fire and all-too-candid lines of logical reasoning, the always-difficult relationship with his elder brother... yet is still recognizably a confused, passionate Everyman facing larger forces beyond his comprehension. Yes. See it. You know you want to!

Now, for those of you who have already seen it...

WTF? Ahem. Even though I was able to predict exactly what was going to happen much of the time, I didn't actually know why. Like, I knew that the third government official, George, was going to blow his brains out in front of that painting, but I didn't understand what David Russell was doing there. Who was Russell really? Who hired him? Did he switch allegiances partway through? Who was the other assassin who followed Stephen to Russell's lair and got fried? Who were the "rogue scientists" who originally infected a subpopulation of the "tag me" operation? Did they kill those Arabs on purpose, or was a mistake made, as Lawrence Cooper appeared to be saying, which then needed to be covered up so it wouldn't endanger the larger program? And what about Eleanor, the Home Secretary and Stephen's ex? At first she seemed like she didn't know about the secret tagging project at all, but by the end she seemed like she was practically running the show. And was it just coincidence that they were interested in Michael because he inadvertently became part of the experiment as a Caucasian "control" (and don't even get me started on the "Arab vs. Caucasian" thing), but in his brother because Stephen was a mathematical genius? And how could Stephen not realize that they were tracking everything he did every time he went out in public or used the T.I.A. *forehead smack*?

Ordinarily I love these sorts of complicated thrillers with whistleblowers and government cover-ups and the little guy against the system, and I thought that this one had a ton of promise, but I can't decide whether it was full of contradictions and loose ends or whether I just need to be spoon-fed more like the stereotypical dumb American. Don't get me wrong, I thought that the acting was fantastic, and I was totally enthralled until the end, but I feel like I missed some pretty important pieces of this puzzle. And the Masterpiece Theater website with its character bios is no help at all :P.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 14th, 2013 06:43 am (UTC)
I'm just gonna say I ran out of WTF? quite early on in the piece. You know, way, way back around the time they decided to give a computer its own massive office with a view of the Thames. Or when Mr Clean Freak touches an extremely sick woman, no big deal. Actually, even earlier back in the airport when you see him go through the retina scan, and the teeny woman behind him CAN'T EVEN REACH IT. I only noticed because I was thinking that I'd have the same problem - she just kind of goes up on tiptoes and keeps walking. It's hilarious.

I usually love this kind of thing as well, but setting the glorious nudity and appealingly incestuous overtones aside, it's really not one of the better productions in his career.

Aug. 14th, 2013 11:44 am (UTC)
I knew that I could count on you to have seen this ;).

So it's not just me, then. The concept was exactly my kind of thing, but the execution (in all senses), not so much.

Although I did have the fleeting thought that an incestuous reconciliation threesome could make it better.

Hahahaha, I didn't notice the thing about the retina scan even though I wouldn't have been able to reach it either. The roller-blading protestors were also very funny.

The worst moment for me was when he was HOLDING THE DYING PATIENT'S HAND to show that he had *changed* and I started freaking out and yelling, "What are you doing? Get OUT of there!"
Aug. 14th, 2013 09:54 pm (UTC)
Ha, yes I've seen most things - but not listened to the audio books or watched the voice-over docos.

What did you think of the 'love scenes'? I've heard much enthusing over them, but quite frankly I think that's some of the most awkward kissing I've ever seen (not to mention the camerawork made me dizzy). Parade's End was passable, so he's improved (that and it was edited right down), but he always seems to have much more natural chemistry with his screen brothers (Sherlock, Last Enemy, Wreckers) which I find amusing.
Aug. 15th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
You might like the Sherlock Holmes pastiches that he reads aloud :).

Well, in the first encounter his character was, you know, taken by surprise and not the initiator, and it was angry grieving sex for her. After that I found it... tender and sweet rather than hot. I think that he has way more chemistry with John (not Mycroft, sorry) and with his best friend in Third Star than he does with Yasim. I haven't seen Parade's End yet - worth Netflixing?
Aug. 15th, 2013 12:26 am (UTC)
I don't listen to audiobooks for anyone - too slooow, lol. Plays and radio shows are okay, just not reading.

Yes to being surprised and all, but it just looked awkward to me! And I belatedly did think of John and Miles as well, althought it's obviously not the first place I went *g*

Parade's End... it's hard to say since I really have no idea as to your tastes, and I don't feel strongly enough about it to give a definitive rec either way. I loved the first two eps and then just felt increasingly less engaged as the screenplay seemed to get increasingly more disjointed. At the core is something of a love triangle, and people tended to either love or hate Sylvia (I adored her; many people thought she was a 'bitch' and worse) and like or dislike Valentine (many fangirls loved her; I thought she was earnest and dull, although more appealing in the books), so that matters as well. It's beautifully filmed though, which counts for a lot to visual people, and BC plays a fantastic character, although physically he's miscast.

Afterwards I read the (four) books and adored them - I have warmer memories of them than the mini-series, but of course I incorporated the visuals of the characters and scenes into the reading. I think part of the problem with the screenplay was that it spent half the time setting the scene - essentially covering the first book - and then squishing the rest into this whirlwind flurry of plot which got a bit disorienting. The books also do this lovely playing around with time and place which I really enjoyed but would be difficult to capture on screen. The compression of events makes it challenging enough to follow as is. So, worth a watch for many reasons but not life-changing *g*
Aug. 15th, 2013 01:22 am (UTC)
Fair enough. I usually don't listen to audiobooks, but I'll make an exception for voices I really love. He's also in an audio version of... The Tempest, I think.

Well, you probably have *some* idea as to my tastes given that we seem to be fans of many of the same shows, lol. Thank you for elaborating. "Beautifully filmed" appeals, as does "BC plays a fantastic character." It sounds like I would enjoy the books. I'll probably give the filmed version a shot in the meantime.

Aug. 15th, 2013 01:42 am (UTC)
"Copenhagen" is one of my favourite things ever. Hadn't heard of The Tempest, though.

I don't mean to sound overly contrary, but just liking a few shows in common doesn't tell me a lot - there's so much stuff people on my f-list rave about that I don't appreciate at all. I do eventually get a 'feel' for the way some people think (more from personal posts), but I don't have a real sense what that might be for you. Would love to hear what you think of PE; that'll give me some hints *g*
Aug. 15th, 2013 02:11 am (UTC)
I've read "Copenhagen." He's in an audio version? *checks* Oh, wow. I wonder where I can get hold of that?

Ah, I tend to forget that we haven't been on each other's f-lists for all that long. I do post about the books I read and the films I like, but I suppose not enough for you to get a good sense.
Aug. 15th, 2013 03:56 am (UTC)
I originally listened to it streaming from the BBC website, but it's probably down by now. You can buy a copy here - I haven't yet, but I intend to. It's really a great role for him - part Martin, part Sherlock, all my favourite things (see, I don't even know if you've listened to Cabin Pressure, which is an absolute must!)

Aug. 15th, 2013 11:59 am (UTC)
Thanks very much!

I've only listened to excerpts from Cabin Pressure - I think it was a crossover vid with one of BC's other projects.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )



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