There’s no denying that Hunted, BBC One’s newest spy based thriller, could be very fun indeed. The idea of having the protagonist work for a private intelligence agency that devotes its time to elaborate, and often very cruel, acts of corporate sabotage provides the strong sense of moral ambiguity that is so often the thing that makes these kinds of shows actually interesting.
It’s sad to say, however, that in at least this first episode the premise is spoiled by messy storytelling and a bland supporting cast.
The show follows the story of Sam Hunter (Melissa George), who is badly wounded in Tangiers after a mission which involves the rescue of an imprisoned doctor. Upon her return to the agency it is obvious that some kind of foul play was involved and it is up to her to find the culprit.
Meanwhile her newest assignment involves infiltrating the household of a criminal turned property developer (Patrick Malahide) by getting close to his widowed son (Stephen Turner). All the while she is helped by a supporting cast of various other agents (Adam Rayner, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Lex Shrapnel and Morven Christie) and her boss (Stephen Dillane), most of whom are incredibly untrustworthy.
It is in this supporting cast though that one of the main problems of Hunted becomes most apparent. The fact is that these characters create so little of an impact that it’s incredibly difficult to care about them. This is partly the problem of the script which forces them to read out lines and lines of mindless exposition (this is the first episode after all.) However, it’s also the problem of the actors who more often than not show little to no emotion. Even when making small talk it seems like they are just going through the motions.
Without the ability to identify with the characters everything else comes to nought. It’s impossible to care about the twists and turns along the path that make up a thriller if you can’t sympathise with the characters that are walking said path.
Hunted is a competent effort in terms of camera work, action and general plot but fails crucially in several areas. If the series doesn’t improve it risks just becoming another generic thriller that will quickly fade into obscurity.