The spectacle around Oldman isn’t entirely up to the standards set by his performance, but it’s not far off—”Slow Horses” is an immensely satisfying celebration and reference to the John le Carré novels that inspired him. A complex plot thriller that intersects with an office comedy and lightly dusts its eroded realism with non-lethal, absurd touches that only occasionally misfire. It also showcases a great cast – Oldman is joined by, among others, Kristin Scott Thomas as MI5’s head of steel operations, Jonathan Pryce as a retired spy, and Jack Lowden as a young agent who has recently arrived at Slough House, and they’re all great. . .
If there’s something wrong with the show, it’s the opposite of what’s sometimes called Netflix bloat. “Slow Horses” demonstrates that six episodes, the standard length for British crime dramas, are not necessarily enough time to adapt a complexly fictionalized, fully-characterized book. The show is more faithful to Herron’s novel than you might expect, and as a result, turns in the story can seem arbitrary and hard to follow.
The show kicks off with a breathtaking action sequence that is now set. London’s Stansted Airport — a nine-minute scene filled with headset commands, sprinting, shouting, fighting, and escalator misbehavior. (The unspoken joke in the book is that there is almost nothing refreshing or mundane cinematic repetitions; several consecutive chases have been added to the series, with a bit of audience pandering that reads as a failure of the imagination.)
It is the reflections of this scene that bring Lowden’s impulsive, idealistic, and indeed quite talented River Cartwright to Slough House, surrounded by other infamous agents more or less willing to step aside. He resents his undeserved demotion and Lamb’s insults; When a journalist’s mission to scavenge seems connected to a hostage crisis, He disobeys Lamb’s orders and investigates, eventually pulling the rest of the Slough House crew with him.
Directed by James Hawes and written by Will Smith, who mostly worked on Armando Iannucci’s political satires “Veep” and “The Thick of It”, it’s an enjoyable, acidic yet understated journey through the night streets and dull days of London. . It focuses on broadcast dates, office complaining sessions, and casual snooping talk as well as commercial craft, and each line of dialogue threatens to turn into a creative insult or a bitter joke. (A favorite: “Speeding you up is like trying to explain Norway to a dog.”)