The BBC’s new drama, Collateral, starts off as a crime thriller and quickly descends into a commentary on society and the immigration system.
An undocumented migrant, Abdullah, is killed while delivering a pizza.
The resulting investigation begins to lift the lid on a shady underworld.
It is packed with star names. But stardust can’t light up the wooden writing.
Behind the script are good actors trying to break out. Hayley Squires of I, Daniel Blake gives an emotive performance in places.
Jon Simm plays a caricature of a Labour left figure. Carey Mulligan’s lead cop character clumsily questions the bereaved sister of Abdullah after breaking into the garage she is sleeping in. “Can you speak English?” she asks, only to carry on speaking more slowly and clearly.
Her interactions feel clumsy throughout the first episode. Perhaps this is intentional, but it feels badly observed.
The first episode of Collateral is at pains to show it’s clued up on contemporary politics, leaving the viewer with the sense the writer wants us to think they’re clever.
Previously Hare has mainly written scripts for plays and film.
“Collateral takes us through various British institutions… and asks why so many organisations seem deliberately structured in a way which prevents individuals being allowed to exercise their own judgements and standards,” says Hare.
It may ask some of the right questions but offers little in the way of answers so far.
Maybe that’s asking too much of a four-part drama. But part one of Collateral bites off more than it can chew, and digestion isn’t aided by a stodgy script.