Recently Watched: Collateral


Collateral is a mini-series by BBC, starring Carey Mulligan as the detective solving the murder of an immigrant pizza delivery man. It was described as a police procedural drama that gives you more than just policemen and detectives and tackles issues such as immigration in Britain, rape, and the British army, among many other themes.

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First broadcast in 2018 and later on showing on Netflix, I was mildly interested in it but decided to give it a go in September because of its mere four episodes. The first episode kicked off in a unique narration of loud voices and song in a pizza delivery restaurant, where the victim worked. From then on, an elaborate and well-written screenplay ensued the plot to show us the pieces that will later on be pieced together by the detectives.

At first this show reminded me a lot of BBC’s Sherlock because of its dark and heavy topics and its very British-ness feel. Additionally the cinematography was excellent, focusing not only on the people but the small details of the surroundings. However what excelled in Sherlock was the characters and the snappy dialogues, and although Collateral’s screenwriter David Hare was able to portray interesting characters through his cleverly written dialogues, the show fell short on making us fall in love with any of the characters.

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Despite that, I found myself eagerly expecting every scene. Moments when the head inspector appeared were the most anticipated, with Carey Mulligan shining with her beautiful face but also beautiful acting. Other than that the other characters were a mere smudge as only pawns that were necessary for Hare to send his points across to the audience about the themes he wanted to discuss. Even so, some of the cast did shine out as very interesting characters, namely Kae Alexander and John Simm.

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Admittedly this show was definitely more than just a murder mystery. It involves illegal immigrants, the MI5, politics related to immigration policies, the military and PTSD, and even LGBTQ issues related to the church. It tackles on a lot of things that made the murder solving more complex, and lures us in to find out how everything happened. In the end, the plot was driving the story well, but the ending left me feeling empty and sad.

For all its faults, Collateral remained gripping to the end. Writer David Hare’s plot was an ambitious patchwork with echoes of State of Play or An Inspector Calls – although ultimately not nearly as successful as either. It not only had pace and panache – led by a terrific performance from Carey Mulligan and stylish direction from SJ Clarkson – but something to say about immigration, the underground economy, corruption, crime and hypocrisy. File under “interesting but flawed”, then.
The Telegraph

Overall this is a show that was unlike any other detective shows I’ve ever watched. I loved how it’s only a mini-series, because I think if it had been a full length TV show it would’ve lost the snappiness and fast paced excitement it had. Additionally if it had been a movie it would’ve been too fast-paced and some of the more interesting side plots in the story would be cut off and made the story less interesting. A very unique show that could have had more well-rounded characters, but all in all an excellent watch if you’re in need for a deeper look into detective stories.

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Have you watched Collateral? What are your thoughts on it?

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