TV Review: Collateral

A truly stellar cast can’t quite convince me that we need another David Hare drama pontificating about the state of the nation – approach Collateral with caution

“On no account piss me about”

Stuffed with the kind of names to draw me in, unwillingly or otherwise, David Hare’s Collateral is certainly designed to do big things, as one might expect from a BBC2/Netflix co-production. But despite Carey Mulligan and Nicola Walker and Billie Piper and John Simm and Saskia Reeves and Deborah Findlay and John Heffernan etc etc etc, it’s a rather sterile affair.

A four-parter that kicks off as a police procedural, Collateral spreads its tendrils to quickly include the political establishment, the media, the church, the military and a healthy dose of refugees. So perhaps inevitably, it has that sense of skating over its many issues without really digging down deep enough to satisfy on (m)any of them.

The murder of a pizza delivery driver acts as the starting point but as Mulligan’s DI Glaspie quickly figures out, it barely scratches the surface on what is actually the ‘case’ here. The customer is the ex-wife of a leading Labour politician, a witness to the crime is in the UK illegally and she’s the lesbian partner of a vicar who got the politician to co-sign her residency, the driver was a Syrian refugee with sisters he looked after. And so on…

But somehow these constituent parts and this stellar cast never really coalesced into something effective for me. Stilted dialogue is a frequent let-down but more, there’s a rather dispassionate feel to everything, there’s an arms-length remove from so much of what happens that makes Collateral rather distant, as opposed to a reflection of the society that Hare imagines we are. Disappointing.

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