The Night Manager: 5 Reasons to Watch Other Than Tom Hiddleston's Butt

AMC's latest series, The Night Manager, is a co-production with the BBC and has already aired in the U.K., so you may have heard about the time a few seconds of star Tom Hiddleston's bare ass nearly broke the internet (seriously, there were a lot of articles written about it). While that's certainly one memorable moment from the six-episode miniseries—a tense, taut, and thrilling updated adaptation of spy master John le Carré's 1993 novel of the same name—it's definitely not the only reason worth tuning in when the series debuts in the U.S. on Tuesday, April 19 at 10pm on AMC. Here are five more.



1. Hiddleston sizzles as the quiet, daring, unpredictable hero 

Thanks to his role as the villainous Loki in Marvel's Thor and The Avengers, Hiddleston was making ladies swoon as the internet's boyfriend long before Oscar Isaac took up the mantle (and after Benedict Cumberbatch passed it on), and there's plenty of that same charm here, but this time Hiddleston uses his powers for good as he takes on the role of hero Jonathan Pine. A soldier turned hotelier turned spy, Pine is recruited by Angela Burr (Broadchurch's Olivia Colman) to infiltrate the inner circle of respected humanitarian Richard Onslow Roper (House's Hugh Laurie) in order to expose him for the dastardly deed of war profiteering. 

Driven by regret stemming from an event he wasn't able to prevent in the miniseries' opening hour, Pine becomes the unlikely, unassuming hero by easily slipping into different dynamic personas in order to successfully position himself within Roper's orbit, and Hiddleston is magnetic and convincing as Pine skillfully, if a bit dangerously, maneuvers himself into the world of wealth and privilege that he previously had only witnessed from the point of view of the unfulfilled night manager of an expensive hotel. But the character's greatest weapon may actually be one that wasn't in the script: Hiddleston's natural charm and charisma. When Pine speaks, however calm and quiet, you instantly want to believe whatever he says (if he smiles, it's pretty much all over), and though Roper's right-hand man Corkoran (Tom Hollander) is immediately suspicious of Pine—because he's right to be but also because he's jealous of Roper's quick acceptance of this mysterious stranger—Roper willingly trusts Pine and brings him in to help orchestrate the sale of millions of dollars' worth of military weaponry.

From the beginning of the ministeries we're told that Pine is a man with two faces: on the surface he's the relaxed and accommodating hotel manager who oozes hospitality and can soothe all your fears with his personable charm—an asset that comes in handy in perilous situations where maintaining a level of collective calm is needed—but underneath he is a war-torn soldier who keeps his anger and hatred bottled up, and he's more than willing to go the distance to make things right and atone for what he perceives to be his sins. The result is a charged man with almost nothing left to lose, which could make Pine the most terrifying weapon for "sale" in The Night Manager. As he becomes fully entrenched in Roper's operation, he too becomes a dangerous and calculating man, one who seems to be swayed by Roper even as he knows the true depths of his sins, and over the course of six slow-burning hours, the risks Pine takes grow increasingly bigger as the tension and suspense become almost unbearable and the story unfolds across picturesque locations, first in Spain before traveling to Turkey and ending in Egypt, where the series began. 



2. This is Laurie like you've never seen him before

American audiences likely know Laurie from House or Veep, or even his work with Stephen Fry, but Roper is a character quite unlike the men he's played prior. Described as the "world's most dangerous man," Roper, as played with equal parts charm and cool menace by Laurie, is a cunning man so powerful and wealthy he believes he's untouchable, and because of the level of corruption in the British government, he basically is. As the hours progress and Pine integrates more fully into Roper's life, the latter's benevolent persona eventually slips away to reveal a violent man behind closed doors, one who uses his high connections and wealth to maintain his persona of well-meaning philanthropist even as he feels no guilt about destroying innocent lives and profiting millions by selling weapons and hate to the highest bidder. He's every bit as dangerous and unforgiving as we've been told over and over again by Burr, and it's his cool exterior in the most dangerous of situations that makes him a great and terrifying villain. 



3. This is not James Bond and that's the way it should be

Comparisons to the adventures of pop culture's most popular spy are likely to be tossed about after the conclusion of the miniseries, especially in the wake of Hiddleston's name being bandied about across the internet as the successor to Daniel Craig's tired 007. But The Night Manager is smoother, tighter, and more competent than any of Bond's most recent cinematic adventures, and to compare Le Carré's deep work, brought to the screen by writer David Farr and director Susanne Bier, and the performances at its center to today's Bond would almost be doing it a disservice. The series is sexy and suspenseful, while Hiddleston is smooth and unflinching, and the six-hour run time allows story to build and breathe organically. Fans of fast-paced action around every corner won't find that here; Pine's integration into Roper's world is slow and methodical—he first has to build up the criminal background that will eventually catch Roper's eye, meanwhile, Roper doesn't even appear for some time, which only adds to the mystery of how this man operates—and as the story evolves and the simmering tension begins to heat up, it only gets better and better.



4. There's little lost in the dazzling update

Though fans of the novel will find that the ending has been altered slightly in the story's jump from page to screen, it's an ending that works and satisfactorily brings the tense drama to a close. But that's not the only difference you'll find when you sit down to watch. Because the miniseries has been updated from Le Carré's original post-Cold War source material to reflect the current political climate, gone is Roper's deal with a South American drug cartel and in its place is the unstable landscape of the Middle East. You'll also notice that in Le Carré's novel, Colman's character was a man, Leonard Burr, but the gender swap, which more accurately reflects the current makeup of our world, turned out to be more beneficial than anyone likely could have guessed since the writers also chose to write in Colman's real-life pregnancy. Her condition significantly ups the dramatic stakes and leads to a great, pivotal character moment—and possibly one of the series' finest scenes—in which Burr explains what drove her desire to take down Roper.



5.  It's all worth it to watch the two men at the center of this dance clash

The bones of Le Carré's spy novel were a solid foundation, but it's really Hiddleston's dazzling performance packaged together with Laurie's effortless charm that makes The Night Manager must-see television in a world where drama is sold by the bucketful and splashy stories are popping up on every TV network. The palpable tension between the two men as they circle one another, as mistrust builds and more people are drawn into the crosshairs—some of them innocent, like Roper's girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), and some not, like Corkoran—is what makes the miniseries work, and without those two strong performances, you'd be left with a half-dozen good-looking puzzle pieces that clearly belong to the same complicated piece of art, but don't fully connect. But then again, if you've ever spent any time on the internet, you probably know all of that by now.

The Night Manager premieres Tuesday, April 19 at 10pm on AMC.

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Jan 14, 2019

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Jun 22, 2016
I kept putting this off for some reason (if I'd read this review when it was first posted, I would have probably hopped on it sooner). Once I got started on them this weekend, couldn't stop! Wish I'd been paying attention because AMC was streaming them over the weekend and I'd like to have recommended it to others while it was free. So very well done! Edge of my seat the whole time, terrified of Hugh Laurie, loved Tom Holander (Corkie), Colman, the Martian from Supergirl, loved all the performances and am almost angry at the T. Hiddy for being so disgustingly appealing on all levels. Glad he's getting the attention and quality work he deserves. The updated plot was excellent and timely too, since there are things coming out now regarding govt. officials and arms deals. All around stellar production.
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Apr 22, 2016
I loved this series it does have comparisions to Bond but a lot more beliveable the cast is fantastic. Hugh Laurie plays a man you love to hate also the locations are great as well superb job all round.
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Apr 22, 2016
This is a terrific series!! It's unlike anything I've seen (and I've seen many UK shows). As long as you watch very carefully, it shouldn't be confusing. I can't believe this is the same actor who played Loki. He deserves some kind of award or more parts like this. Tom Hiddleston does an amazing job and I've only watched half so far. On amc.com, there are interviews with him and the cast, all the locations they filmed in. Lots of other interactive experiences too.
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Apr 21, 2016
I just love the filming and choice of location. Gatherd with a great story, it is differnately worth watching.
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Apr 20, 2016
Watched last night. Will watch again!
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Apr 20, 2016
Trust me, it may be slow burn first 2 episodes, this 'miniseries' was a fantastic watch. It still lingers with me how good it was, and it's been a few weeks now! Definitely a must watch and Tom H is fantastic!
(especially knowing he plays frickin Loki!!)
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Apr 20, 2016
Is this definitely (or near definitely) a miniseries (vs a show) that will end after the 6 episodes with no chance of a 2nd season even if ratings are high?
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Apr 20, 2016
There is discussion about a second series due to its success. But (and I'm guessing here) if it happens it'll probably be a different cast/story
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Staff
Apr 20, 2016
Both Hiddleston and Laurie have said they don't think there should be a second season because it was an open and closed story. But if John le Carre writes a follow-up book, they would maybe be interested.
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Jun 22, 2016
It's hard to imagine Jonathan Pine just retired after that, but then maybe he'd be too well exposed to use on another mission.
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Apr 21, 2016
Thanks thekaitling.
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Apr 20, 2016
I have also seen this and, as a whole, the good by far outweighs the bad. It's a slow-burn story (a problem for some, not for me), with some plot holes (which you don't necessarily notice if you're not the sort of person to nitpick at things), and at times it feels like we've seen this story before (but the same goes for most stories). Depending on taste (everything does) it's 6 hours very well spent. John le Carré, Tom Hiddleston (and no, not his bum), Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, BBC, these are all very good reasons to give this show a serious try.
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Apr 20, 2016
Dont' waste your time with this show (as I did). It's a pile of a billion things you've already seen. I really don't know Hiddleston career, but in this show is just a sad puppy who flaps his big eyes and runs shirtless on a beach.
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Apr 20, 2016
Hi Kaitlin. Any female ass/nudity in this? Even if not, I'll look forward to watching it based on the original description + the great Hugh Laurie.
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Apr 20, 2016
Watched it & enjoyed it. A Very Good show!
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Apr 20, 2016
I have also watched the whole series and totally recommend this show, as a whole story it would give any 007 a run for the money.
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Apr 19, 2016
Having watched all 6 on the BBC, my humble opinion was that the plot had holes you could drive one of Roper's tanks through, but it was beautifully shot and the cast were all top-notch.
It's a decent watch, but don't kick yourself too much if you miss it.
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Apr 19, 2016
ZOMG! That title...Objectifying a person...so sexist...cue fake outrage...oh, it's a dude? Carry on.
Anyways, heard that great performances all round make up for an average plotline. I will give this a shot for Hugh Laurie.
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Apr 19, 2016
Er, to be honest its OK but really no better than OK. The premise, that there are rogue arm dealers out there is a bit undercut by the reality-that legit arm dealers are just as bad- keenly supported by various governments including the UK and US.
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Apr 19, 2016
I watched the first two and wasn't really into it - not saying it was bad cause it wasn't but i just didn't connect with the characters or the story even - which isn't good for a 6 episode mini-series

The performances were brilliant but i just didn't see what was so great about what was happening - it's nothing i haven't seen on 24 before - ya know - a show that had Jack F'n Bauer

Tom Hiddleston's ass shouldn't be a reason to watch this which is why i am glad Kaitlin written this article
(as if seeing his ass broke the internet.... why????)

other recent BBC shows have been better (And Then There Were None and Stag)

I can't wait for The Fall to return personally
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Apr 19, 2016
This is show is amazing and well worth a look. Tom Hiddleston for the next Bond would certainly get my vote. He is ultra smooth in this. Hugh using his natural accent is great too. He play an excellent villain.
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Apr 19, 2016
Another two cents: it's good. A slowish burn which is not a surprise when the Brits are involved. For me, Colman and Laurie were reasons enough to watch; fantastic actors.
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Apr 19, 2016
caught it when it aired on BBC. amazing show. high tensions, amazing acting and beautiful scenery. totally a must watch
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Apr 19, 2016
Totally awesome. really. a most see. honestly.
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Mar 13, 2017
"must see"
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Apr 19, 2016
One of the best spy shows ever... All the actors especially Tom Hollander mesmerized me...
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Apr 19, 2016
already being available on blu-ray/ internet copies of UK broadcasts why watch an US TV sanitized version?
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Apr 19, 2016
Ok, I'm sold.
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Apr 19, 2016
I was worried they'd cut quite a bit of running time from the original UK airing; TV shows in the UK have roughly 10-minutes of additional run-time per hour than US shows have. But, it looks like AMC is going to extend the show past the hour-mark with tonight's episode running from 10:00 to 11:15. That should mean the UK and US versions are pretty close if not identical.

And/but, it will be interesting to see if they edit for content.
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Staff
Apr 19, 2016
AMC (and SundanceTV, which is part of AMC) are usually pretty good about that when importing shows, I think. Based on what the network made available to critics beforehand, I'm inclined to believe it's the same running time.
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Apr 19, 2016
To be honest I only watched the show because of Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston. But as the show progressed I realized that the show was great in its entirety. Even if you replace Laurie and Hiddleston with different actors the show will still be great.
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Apr 19, 2016
It was a great mini-series, the first episode especially draws you into the show. I was a tad let-down by the end, but honestly it was a great ride. Everyone should watch the series, House and Loki were excellenta.
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