Sunday, 26 February 2017
T.V. REVIEW: TABOO Season 1
8 Episodes. Starring: Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Jessie Buckley, Stephen Graham, Tom Hollander, Michael Kelly & Jonathan Pryce. Director: Kristoffer Nyholm.
Gruelling menace runs ragged and red right through the BBC's gruesome, new 'Taboo' word like the strings of Max Richter's off the scale, underscoring soundtrack, until they are pulled taught tight. Thats the high tension in the networks latest serious serial of definitive drama with FX that could rival the ruthlessness of Idris Elba's 'Luther', complete with trappings of Benedict Cumberbatch's old 'Sherlock'...and an even bigger name like Baker Street too. As the Beeb manage to snare laconic, leading man extroadinaire Tom Hardy for more than a peak like his cameos in Cillian Murphy's 'Blinders' series. And the enigmatic actor of epic 'Dark Knight Rises', 'Bronson', 'Locke' and dual Kray twin legend plays a mysterious character making port and bringing big smoke and mirrors of magic to a foggy, forlorn, early 18th century old London town awash in darkness, debauchery and social scurvy. A corrupt capital from the crown to the company were you can't tell the difference between the aristocats and the whores. In this period piece they're ruffled and dressed as one and the same. But the solitary Hardy cuts a striking figure as James Delaney. With an all black top hat and cloaking top coat complete with a mead beard, jesters war paint and tribal tattoos to match, that hint at a life well travelled, offest by scars which show the service of slavery. But just what did the roots of this man see across continents in Africa? And what now, coming back in the wake of his fathers death does he want, if not the wealth he wades in? It's 'Taboo's secret subject that will torture you throughout like the iron and brimstone scenes of that very graphic nature in grotesque detail. But ask yourself, especially right now how will all this come together in this dis-United Kingdom?
Hardy hardly offers us any gems, not even a trinket until the finale jewel of the crown reveal that surprises you like sleight of hand. This man of few grunts groans through this lumbering narrative that ignites the slow burner genre like stirring gun powder with chlorate. In the mainstream, maverick 'Mad Max' reboot, his twin turn in 'Legend', his brute Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises', the brutal 'Bronson', the wounded woe of 'Warrior', the solitary car set drive of the buckled up 'Locke', the brooding Brooklyn bartend of 'The Drop' and the raw 'Revenant' ravager against 'Inception' co-star Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar win, Tom has made the Marlon mumbling his brand. And business is good. Booming on fact. That's what happens when your character comes across a small fortune from the father, just like this actors filmography has afforded. Here however Hardy has rarely been better. Each one of his careers complex characters and their murmurs have their own utterances, inflections and nuances...no droning incoherence. It's an inwardly influential, character study look at the sole confiments of a man lost in as much lonely isolation as he is mesmerizing mystery. It's just what makes this character as compelling as the chapters of this eight wonder series disguised as a mini-movie and the depth each hour episode brings over most mainstream movies. In this age of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' this BBC new classic holds the crown with enough gold pieces to make more than heads roll. And with keeping Hardy with a seat at the foot of the table, dark director Kristoffer Nyholm and filmmaking legend Ridley Scott in the producers chair alongside Tom makes sure this developing drama and descent into darkness eats at you like the hog roasts of the pig rich and fat and the churning empty stomachs of the poor and soot dirty downtrodden. And 'Taboo's' terrifying subject matter drowns you like the haunting title sequence brutally below sea level.
But there's more here to get the meat hooks into you, with this creepily unsettling thriller that you have been nursing throught the dog, doldrum days of January and the winters bone of February. There's the equally as enigmatic and evocative Oona Chaplin, veiled in mystery and shrouded subplot. Is she his sister? His mistress? Or our souls be damned both? Just like another mysterious woman who enters the fray in the form of Jessie Buckely. An actress who has transitioned from talent show stage to British Broadcasting screen. Whilst David Hayman is a man of great service. The Alfred to Hardy's Delaney's Dark Knight. Haymaker tough. Just like Stephen Graham playing a pitbull of a character, the only thing tougher is his tattoo's as the 'Pirates Of The Carribean' and 'Public Enemies' familiar face is just one you can't forget. Just like another recognisable 'Pirates' crew member Tom Hollander. No...not new Spider-Man Tom Holland, but the 'Rev' that starred alongside Loki's Tom Hiddleston in last years BBC best 'The Night Manager'. Even 'Pirates Of The Carribean' star and old 'Tomorrow Never Dies' Bond villain Jonathan Pryce is here as the right man to be villain. A formidable foe to Hardy's anti-hero. The legend completes a cast so vast it even has room for some Hollywood players for it's American influence. As 'House Of Cards', 'Changeling' and 'The Adjustment Bureau' standout Michael Kelly scrubs in as a doc as surgically strange as his characters teeth that need their own visit to a dentist. This and all the actors aesthetics are applied right in this atmospheric period piece that smothers you with the fog of the old Big Smoke. But that's nothing compared to the eerie tide that comes in from the dock here. Washed up and wrung out this series will leave you wrenched and drenched...and you'll love it. Lets just hope amongst all this magic and madness permitting that the BBC, Ridley Scott and the terrific Tom Hardy make 'Taboo' the subject of a second season all the more sweetly sinister. Let's hope it's not forbidden. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Peaky Blinders', 'Luther', 'Lawless'.