'Collateral' review - not just an act of random violence

BBC and Netflix's new show proves to be a lot more than what meets the eye with intriguing characters and dynamic, surprising plots.

Collateral, the new crime drama, co-produced by BBC and Netflix, is centred around the unexplained shooting of Abdullah Asif, a pizza delivery driver in South London. Despite initially seeming like an act of random violence, the show reveals the wider rationales and ramifications behind the killing after it is revealed the victim was a Syrian refugee.

The four-part drama is the first television script from playwright David Hare in which he interrogates larger political and global issues; namely the refugee crisis in Europe and Britain’s immigration policy.

Film-star Carey Mulligan takes to the small screen as protagonist Kip Glaspie – a recently promoted detective. Although typically appearing in period roles, Mulligan plays the role of a policewoman with ease and finesse. Both the actress and her character are visibly pregnant but there is refreshingly little mention of it within the show, an admirable change from dramas that make pregnancy and her family life a main story.

Glaspie is a strong and rich female lead without any of the clichés. Nonetheless the incessant mentions of how she was both a school teacher and Olympic pole vaulter in her previous life were inappropriate and kept me wondering whether her pole vaulting skills would suddenly become necessary to the plot (spoiler: they don’t).

The secondary stories revolve around the witnesses and their connections to the initial murder. The characters introduced include the pizza delivery manager, a female reverend, a Labour politician and the sisters of the victim.

At times, and particularly at first, the inclusion of these characters seems irrelevant and just a way to boast about the star-studded cast. Yet, as the series progresses, Hare’s intentions become increasingly clear as these characters begin to shed light on varying areas of British establishment, gradually forming connections between the characters in the process.

Glaspie is a strong and rich female lead without any of the clichés.

The stories give an insight into the poor living conditions that illegal immigrants face when they arrive in Britain. The labour politician David (John Simm) discusses the downfalls of the immigration policy calling Britain, ‘A nasty little country.’ The reverend (Nicola Walker) must choose between her own happiness and that of her parish. The weakest character is undoubtedly David’s ex-wife Karen (Billie Piper). Despite being the last person to see the delivery man alive, Hare’s treatment of Karen primarily focuses on her brattish personality and poor parenting skills.

Overall however the numerous but connected secondary stories offer thought-provoking insights into Britain and work to make the whole series feel more realistic and ‘human’.
Despite its flaws, Collateral remained a compelling watch and its involvement with current political and global issues ensures it stands apart from other crime dramas.

Photo credit: Youtube/One Media


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